Empty Bench

Over the past two weeks, we have commented on the Merrill Lynch and Citibank CEO debacles, and the generous paychecks they, and other failed CEOs, have received on their way out. However, even more amazing is that neither company had a successor in the wings. Only about 50% of all companies prepare for succession (not just the CEO, but other senior management positions). Succession planning is an important process that, when well-managed, provides for seamless and positive organizational transitions. The alternative is disruption, loss of productivity, angst among the troops and a whole host of other negative effects caused as the chair is empty and a search evolves for the successor. It is the responsibility of company leadership and–in the case of a public company, the board–to insure that succession planning is built into the management discipline, and is a deliberate and thoughtfully executed process. It’s bad business if your company fails to include succession planning in its management agenda.

Tony LoPinto is CEO of Equinox Partners, an executive search firm specializing in the real estate industry, and parent company of SelectLeaders. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.
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