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Supporters, who tout succession planning, often include a cadre of the usual suspects — executive search consultants and leadership gurus who will profit from this initiative. Certainly there are governing boards and CEOs, primarily at the larger health systems and hospitals, who spend considerable time discussing this topic. The detractors believe that more harm than good will come from planning for CEO succession. Armed with anecdotal evidence of the concept’s failures, as well as concerns by some that a succession plan might lead to the CEO’s premature departure in times of conflict, they argue that the risks are not worth any possible upside.
Board members often lack the knowledge of planning for CEO succession, or they are easily deterred by a CEO who is opposed to it. The devotees contend succession planning is an essential governing board responsibility, supporting their most important duty: selecting a CEO. They contend that succession planning will ensure that all the positives of an organization are preserved, and course corrections can be achieved in a more orderly fashion.
Successful succession planning requires a high level of trust between the CEO and the Board. If that trust does not exist, then it is time for some candidate conversation concerning the role of governance and the future of the organization. Here are some ideas to consider.
Where the CEO is in his or her career, or health issues, will drive the type of succession plan that is developed. Finally, if there is no consensus on whether to proceed, then stop. Succession planning is not for every organization but before it is rejected out of hand, have an honest conversation concerning its merits and drawbacks.
© 2022 John Gregory Self
Tags CEOsHealth Systemshospital governanceHospitalsSuccession planning