Succession Checklist


Often referred to as “The Final Test of Greatness,” a successful leadership transition requires vision, open communication, clearly defined expectations, discipline, and patience.  The process should be viewed as a marathon, not a sprint… and as such it requires planning and a long-term perspective.


A good starting point for any succession includes the following “Leadership Transition Checklist.”


  1. Values:  Have you clearly defined your organization’s values?  Are these values felt throughout the organization – and do they help define how your company does business?


  1. Vision:  Is there a clearly defined vision for the future?  Has the vision been communicated to the employees and is it easy to understand?


  1. Strategic Plan:  Is there a plan for achieving this Vision?  Is there buy-in throughout the organization?


  1. Resource Assessment:  What are the resources embodied in the current generation of leaders? (Skills, knowledge base, relationships, etc)    Have the resources required for effective company-wide leadership been identified and is there a process for transferring them to the next generation of leaders?


  1. Potential Successors:  Have you identified High Potential employees as your possible successor(s)?  Are these High Potential employees aware that you consider them possible candidates for high-level leadership?


  1. Development Plans:  Have you identified the strengths and weaknesses of your potential successors?  Is there a plan in place to address their weakness and to continue building on their strengths?


  1. Career Path:   Is there a clear career path in place that will ensure the on-going leadership development of your potential successor(s)?  Does this path provide successors the opportunity to build the skills, knowledge, resources, etc. required for long-term leadership?


  1. Decision-Making Process:  Is there a Board of Directors (or other similar body) that can serve to evaluate the potential successors and help make the final decision about a successor?  Is the Board empowered to create real accountability for managing the leadership transition process?


  1. Governance Structures:  Have the owners defined the structures required to ensure a successful partnership?  ( Buy-Sell agreement, conflict of interest policy, fiduciary responsibilities, employment policy, family member involvement policy, etc.)


  1. CEO Transition:  Is the CEO ready to transition to a new place?  Is there a clearly defined set of roles and responsibilities into which the CEO can transition?  ( Founding Partners should view themselves as transitioning up, not out.)


  1. Financial Security:  Have the economic needs of the founding partners been openly discussed?  Is there a plan for addressing these needs?


  1. Estate Plans:  Have the partners planned for the efficient transfer of their assets to their chosen beneficiaries?  Are these plans consistent with the vision for the future of the business?


  1. Team:  Is there a team in place that will support the transition?  Is there a process to ensure the on-going development of this new management team?


  1. Timing and Communication:  Is there a defined time-line for the leadership transition?  Has this time-line, and its supporting implementation plan, been clearly explained to the rest of the organization?





Welcome to the Initiative for Family Business and Entrepreneurship

Family businesses are the most significant drivers of the world’s economy. In the United States:

20 of 22 million businesses are family controlled
Over 62 percent of American jobs were created by family business
64 percent of the country’s GDP is generated by family business
Most importantly, family businesses outperform non-family firms in nearly every measure of competitive success. Yet this success does not come easy, as family leaders face unique challenges of managing the needs of the business, the family ownership group, and individual family members.

The goal of Saint Joseph’s Initiative for Family Business and Entrepreneurship is to help family businesses compete in the long-term. We will do this by building a community of family businesses and entrepreneurs who are committed to continuous improvement. Our unique membership program will help you:

Transition leadership.
Manage conflict.
Continue a legacy of entrepreneurship.
Build accountability structures.
Create a competitive advantage.
Build a unified family shareholder team.