Choice in Failure
“So, here is what I feel” said the MD after the CEO had spent a good half hour singing her achievements on her annual evaluation day. “You can be a rocking CEO with great credentials and a large fan following. But to me, you are only half-baked if you cannot tell me who will continue the golden run after your time”.
The conversation with the MD ended abruptly.
The numbers looked good, the Image of the company had moved from “arriving, to arrived, the stock price had sky rocketed and the employee engagement index was hovering around 90%. The MD should have been hugging the CEO and giving her a raise. But his statement stumped her.
The CEO had walked into the MDs office thirty minutes ago oozing confidence but a half hour later she was looking thoughtful. While the intention of the MD was not to de motivate the CEO, he wanted to give her a reality check.
Typically, all CEOs agree with the HR head that succession planning is extremely vital at the senior levels but then when it comes to a discussion on their own succession planning, 8 out of 10 CEOs have the standard punch line; I am not going anywhere!” (I have often wondered how they can make such death defying statements).
The CEO needs to understand that “it’s not about her. It’s about the continuity of the business”. You see, if you have the capability, the drive, the ambition and the required knowledge, you can achieve the goal that has been set. But if you do not have a vision that includes “People planning”, the business is going nowhere. It might peak, then plateau and finally dip.
The job of a CEO is to ensure that her business continuity plan includes succession planning. If she is not doing it, then she is nothing but a good operations head that is delivering profits as long as she is alive & kicking. It’s called, “Living in the “here & now”. Quiet a myopic view if you ask me.
Successful businesses always have a chain of leaders who take the vision forward. The strategies or plans may need tweaking with time but the concept of handing over the baton to an effective successor is the key. Whether you run an enterprise or a nation, the moment you fall short of successors, the performance of the entity always dips. Look at the recent case where a CEO of the oldest and most Trusted Indian company was asked to go (without a replacement).I am sure when he was the CEO, he also must have thought “I am going nowhere”.
And now, Imagine having to find a suitable CEO for a $100 billion company in four months. Will the new guy undo the past? or redo the vision?
Having a successor is not enough. What the enterprise needs is an “effective successor” because, if you do not choose and plan your successor wisely, then In Spite of having a body with a name your enterprise is still dipping. Look what happened to the grand old party of India.
Effective succession planning delivers effective successors who carry the larger vision of the enterprise and reach the goal. The routes may vary based on the need of the hour but the vision does not get blurred.
But the enterprises that shies away from succession planning always ends up
“Either undoing the past or redoing the vision”
Look at the brighter side. At least there is a choice in failure.:-)
About Ajit Menon
Ajit Menon Kashyap has over 26 years of experience in Aviation, Hospitality, Business Process Outsourcing, Media and Manufacturing. Ajit holds a Degree in Business Administration, International Business, Distinction from Washington International University.