CFAR Founder Tom Gilmore’s article, “The Importance of Linking Leadership Succession, Strategy, and Governance,” offers three common dilemmas in leadership succession, three case studies that demonstrate the important relationship among strategy, governance, and succession, and five tips for navigating these interdependent processes.

We find time and again that in a moment of leadership succession, the search for the next leader becomes foregrounded, without fully tending to the related background—the wickedly intertwined state of the board’s functioning and the enterprise’s strategy. Likewise, working on governance is often triggered by succession and linked to strategy in terms of new competencies needed from a new leader and/or that must be represented on the board.

Looking at one area without consideration of the other two can create blind spots, but their segmentation is clear in the three different professional groups that offer services in each area:

Strategy: Strategy consulting firms
Governance: Organizational development and process consultants
Succession: Executive recruiters and search firms

We find it helpful to reframe the fullness of the effort through a systems-thinking lens—one that leverages the three processes of strategy, succession, and governance as part of a broader leadership transition with implications for the enterprise as a whole. In this way, organizations can be better equipped to successfully navigate the three dilemmas that emerge from a more fragmented approach:

  • Misalignment between the board’s readiness and leadership succession.
  • Misalignment of the strategy with succession.
  • Mismatch between the board’s capabilities and strategic developments.

Here are five tips for navigating these interdependent processes, based on years of experience working through these critical yet complex transitions:

  1. Go as far as you need to inform the next step, but value incompleteness and retain flexibility.
  2. Never take up one of these tasks without using the occasion to reflect on the other two.
  3. Actively manage the transitions from one phase to another.
  4. Respect the time needed for different phases.
  5. Respect that people may be in different places in all these processes.

If you’re interested in learning more, we invite you to read the full article here.