LESSON 8 OF 40 - Design Your Succession Plan—NOW!
What if your CEO is hit by a bus?
THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: In Lesson 8, the authors bring us face-to-face with the reality that “Every CEO is an interim CEO. Even founders die!” Therefore, the only two options available to boards are: “plan for succession or be unprepared for succession.” The authors clearly recommend, “planning—because the stakes are high!”
Not wanting to simply give advice, the authors encourage us to access numerous substantive and effective ECFA tools and resources to deal with the critical realities and risks of succession. In this lesson they summarize the “11 Principles for Successful Successions” found in the online resource, ECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning.
These principles are:
1) Avoid buses and boredom! (prepare for a crisis)
2) Discern your board’s succession values and beliefs (look for anointment before appointment)
3) Inspire your CEO to thrive with a God-honoring lifestyle (invest in CEO soul care)
4) Model successful succession in the boardroom first
5) Delegate succession planning to the appropriate committee
6) Invest in growing your leaders (every leader needs a coach)
7) Trust God and discern direction (practice spiritual discernment early and often)
8) Plan for Plan A—Your CEO retires
9) Plan for Plan B—Your CEO resigns
10) Plan for Plan C—Your CEO is terminated
11) Discern if a search firm would be helpful
• “Like the ripple effect of a stone tossed into a pond, the CEO’s influence will move in waves through generations. No decision of the board, absolutely no decision, is more profound.” (David McKenna)
• “Too many successions are on the heels of a moral or financial failure. And nearly every one of those failures happened because the [leaders] were tired and didn’t have anyone to talk to about their personal fatigue.” (William Vanderbloemen and Warren Bird)
• “When your top leader is a lifelong learner and open to feedback, he or she will inspire the entire team to grow.”
MY COLOR COMMENTARY:
The highest risk event in the life of a ministry is the succession of a CEO, whether planned or not. Mitigating this risk is critical, as well as seizing the inherent opportunity! Therefore, the authors challenge boards to be excellent for such a time as this by effectively applying “11 Principles for Successful Successions.”
Four of these principles are:
• Inspire your CEO to thrive with a God-honoring lifestyle. Just surviving isn’t good enough! Wise boards know the enemy never rests from his mission to kill, steal, and destroy—and their CEO is a prime target. Caring for, praying for, nurturing, providing appropriate accountability, including the CEO’s participation in a peer accountability group, is essential.
• Model successful succession in the boardroom first. Effective boards model the attitudes, behaviors, and processes they want replicated within the organization.
• Invest in growing your leaders (every leader needs a coach). When you stop learning you stop leading! Invest in the ongoing learning, growth, and development of your CEO. When you really, really, really need something—you pay for it, one way or the other!
• Discern if a search firm would be helpful. Take time and get the best help possible to carefully and prayerfully search to find the most qualified individual for the CEO position. You hire your problems, so get this right. To summarize R. Scott Rodin: look for God’s anointment before appointment!
THIS WEEK’S QUOTES & COMMENTARY BY BILL FRISBY:
BILL FRISBY is the CEO of Strengthening Leaders L3C. Bill partners with top-level ministry leaders to build healthy, high-performing executive teams, organizations, and boards through executive coaching, organizational consulting, and training. He has extensive experience in Executive Transition Management, Board Development, Changing Leadership and Organizational Cultures, Talent Management, and more. He draws from 40 years of international nonprofit and corporate leadership experience, working with leaders at Operation Mobilization, The Gideons International, Word of Life Fellowship, WorldVenture, Buckner International and many others. Bill and his wife, Lisa of 42 years, live in Peachtree City, Ga. (metro Atlanta). They have two adult children, who grew up as third culture missionary kids, and two granddaughters.
TO DO TODAY:
• Deploy: Provide each board member with a one-page Succession Readiness Checklist, group dialogue their responses, and create a “capacity building plan” to close the readiness gaps.
• Design: With the help of a template or examples, ask an appropriate board committee and the CEO to complete or update a CEO Emergency Succession Plan for board review and approval.
• Visit the ECFA Knowledge Center and read and share the short chapter, Lesson 8, “Design Your Succession Plan—NOW!”
NEXT WEDNESDAY: On March 4, 2020, watch for the commentary by Devlin Donaldson on Lesson 9, “Just Do One Thing a Month. Make a specific ask of each board member each month.”