Jan 26, 2012 | permalink | categories: Succession Planning
In order to build a succession plan, you will need to understand and accept the reality that the season you are in should impact the actions you take.
My daughter’s schedule during the summer looks very different than her schedule during the school year - her season dictates her schedule.
The company my wife works for does a big percentage of their annual sales in a relatively short amount of time - their busy season impacts the things they do.
Since Christmas has come and gone hot apple cider wasn’t an option at the coffee shop this morning - the change in seasons impacts their menu options.
Our priorities and actions change to align with the seasons we go through. Everyone understands this. Everyone accepts this.
There are other types of seasons we go through. These seasons are not as easy to identify because they are not marked by weather patterns or school bus schedules.
A young woman that graduates from college starts her new career. There needs to be a period of time where she simply observes and learns. How long should that be?
My heart was pounding the first time I told my wife I loved her! As far as I was concerned, the season had shifted in our relationship. I was scared of the thought that she may not agree.
Every change in season requires a new set of actions.
Some of the funniest things we see are when people do things that contradict the season they are in.
- People snow skiing in bathing suits…
- 50-year-old men shopping at The Buckle…
- Watching grandpa do the Hokey Pokey at his grandson’s birthday party…
Some of the saddest things we see are when people do things that contradict the season they are in.
- A 27-year-old son acting like he just turned 18…
- A dad more concerned with spending time and money on hobbies than his wife and kids…
- A leader who refuses to acknowledge it is time to plan for retirement...
There are two lenses of time God has given us to look through. One lens helps us see the reality of the season of life we are in. The other lens helps us see the specific, moment by moment actions we need to take to steward the season.
Succession planning requires you have both lenses working together.
Jan 24, 2012 | permalink | categories: Succession Planning
God gives every generation specific, unique, culturally relevant tools to engage their generational context. Every leader must be confronted with a critical question as they move past their Pisgah Moment: Are you chasing the Kingdom or a Serpent?
Numbers 21 gives an incredible example of this principle. God told Moses to build a bronze serpent as a symbol of healing and grace. The serpent was given to the Isrealites as a tool for a specific context. Approximately 700 years later, a young King named Hezekiah destroyed the serpent because it was being worshiped as an idol. Over time they began to worship the tool God provided instead of the God that provided it.
As a Lead Servant you must be willing to confront the trap of thinking your identity is wrapped up in “tool preservation.” Succession planning is not about making sure the next person leads the same way as you. That is arrogance. You have the important task of helping your replacement and the rest of the organization understand what it means to steward the tools God provides.
To put it another way, your goal is not to conform your replacement into your leadership image. Your goal is to help him understand what it means to serve like Christ in the context of the position he will one day hold.
Consider this command God gave Moses about his succession plan with Joshua:
But charge Joshua and encourage him and strengthen him, for he shall go across at the head of this people, and he will give them as an inheritance the land which you will see. (Deuteronomy 3:28)
These are potent words. God was very clear. Moses knew what he must do...and he did it.
I love John Maxwell’s definition for equip: Encourage Qualities Undeveloped In People.
One of the by-products of a succession plan is that your replacement will be E.Q.U.I.P.ed to take your place. This cannot be done, however, if you refuse to prepare. This cannot be done if you are more concerned with your legacy than the people you lead. This cannot be done if you are not convinced developing a succession plan is your responsibility. This cannot be done if you are more concerned with yesterday's tools than preparing for tomorrow's leader.
My prayer is that God would place a burden on your heart to E.Q.U.I.P. your replacement. Whether you do it in person, or through a process you have worked with your leadership team to establish makes no difference. The point is that you need to take responsibility for preparing your replacement. You must take responsibility to make sure your organization is prepared to follow his leadership.
Jan 19, 2012 | permalink | categories: Succession Planning
One thing has become very clear as I have studied the topic of Succession Planning: Retirement-based transitions are not something leaders intuitively think about. Usually, there is a specific event, or trigger, that springs leaders and organizations into action.
This trigger is what I refer to as the "Pisgah Moment.” I get the name from the moment when Moses came face to face with Israel's need for a successor to his leadership.
Here is a brief synopsis, but you can read the full encounter in Numbers 27 and Deuteronomy 3.
God instructed Moses to take a census of the people in Numbers 26. The census would determine the amount of land each family would receive when they entered the Promised Land. Numbers 27 starts with a land dispute as a result of the census. The dispute escalated and was brought to Moses.
Immediately after Moses made a ruling on the land issue God took him to the mountain of Abarim, specifically to the plateau of Pisgah. It was from this location that God gave Moses a glimpse into Canaan. With a bird’s eye view of the Promised Land, fresh off this question of land inheritance, Moses asked God a profound question:
When I am gone, who will inherit my leadership? (Numbers 27:16-17)
I am sure Moses knew his leadership would eventually end. Until this moment, however, there had not been any real urgency. It was obvious he had no plan.
Pisgah marked a profound change in direction. Until this point, Moses' primary act of stewardship was tied to leading Israel. From this point forward, God made it clear that his primary act of stewardship was tied to preparing Israel for his departure. Pisgah will do the same to us.
If this was not natural for Moses, it should come as no surprise that many godly, Christian leaders do not come by it naturally either. Just as with Moses, I believe God directs every leader to their personal Pisgah - the place where the need of succession will be exposed and confronted. The question is whether or not we choose to respond the way Moses did.
Lead Servant was started to confront you with the reality of Pisgah. Lead Servant is also designed to help you understand how to walk away from your Pisgah Moment with clarity on what to go do and courage to actually do it.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)
I wrote a post outlining four reasons why creating a succession plan is so important. You can click here to read it.
Jan 17, 2012 | permalink | categories: Succession Planning
One of the barriers to succession planning many leaders face has to do with a lack of models to follow. Since they are not familiar with what a successful transition looks like, current leaders are paralyzed and unsure of where to start.
My goal with this post is to provide a handful of questions to answer that will help you get started. This is not an exhaustive list, but it will help you begin framing up your thoughts.
- Why are you thinking about retirement?
- How much time do you have to think through and implement a succession strategy?
- Do you feel it is your responsibility to prepare your replacement? If not, who is?
- Do you feel it is your responsibility to prepare your church / organization for your retirement? If not, who is responsible for helping them navigate the process?
- Are you being honest with yourself about your ability and willingness to let go and step away?
- How often do you and your spouse talk about your retirement?
- Do you have an idea for what you will do after you step away from your current responsibilities?
- Will you relocate or stay in your current home?
- After you retire, would you like the option of staying at your church?
- Can you afford to retire? If not, is money the thing keeping you from beginning to plan?
- Do you feel your replacement will come from inside or outside of the church / organization?
- Does your church, denomination, or organization have a specific process outlined for retiring leaders?
- Have you already started speaking publicly about your retirement? If not, have you thought through who you should tell and when?
- What are the key things your replacement must know?
- Who are the key people your replacement must know? This can be people to trust as well as people to avoid.
Asking the right question is just as important as finding the right answer.
Even though some of these questions are tough, they need to be answered. If you are not able to answer them on your own, then you must bring trusted people to your side to begin answering them with you.
As I have said from the very beginning of this series of posts – succession planning is a big deal! There are tens of thousands of leaders preparing for retirement who need practical tools to help make plans to step away from their current careers. If we can help in any way, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Here are some things you can do to help us:
- Share this post with five people you think could benefit from this topic.
- “Like” us on Facebook – click the like button to the right of the LS logo.
- Follow me on Twitter – you can find me @willardheath
Jan 12, 2012 | permalink | categories: Succession Planning
Generally speaking, books on leadership tend to fall into one of the following categories:
- Change/Process Management
- People/Resource Management
It is not uncommon for these books to mention that a healthy succession should take place, but these are mostly passing comments with no real substance on what that actually looks like. This isn’t because the books are bad, it is simply because this is not their topic. The following is a sample of various books on leadership. I have included short comments on how they deal with succession planning – if at all.
Books targeting a broad audience:
Jesus, CEO, Laurie Beth Jones (Hyperion – 1995)
Ms. Jones appears to have written this book to impart biblical principles on leadership. She mentions that Jesus handed over authority to the disciples, but there is no real development on how He did it.
Nonprofit Management 101 (Jossey-Bass – 2011)
It is interesting that a book of this nature, published in 2011, does not deal with the issue of succession planning at all. There is a section dedicated to identifying and preparing future leaders, however.
7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey (Free Press – 2004)
The second habit, – “Begin with the End in Mind,” does not move the finish line far enough out. This principle must be expanded to address retirement and all of its implications.
The 100 Best Business Books of All Time, Covert & Sattersten (Penguin Books, 2009)
Not one book on this list deals exclusively with the issue of retirement. A handful will only mention the issue in passing.
Good to Great, Jim Collins (Harper-Collins, 2001)
The chapter titled “Level 5 Leadership” addresses the act of succession as a byproduct of the unique gifting Level 5 leaders have. It does not address how they develop a succession strategy.
Built to Last, Collins & Porras (Harper-Collins, 2002)
Chapter 8, “Home-Grown Management,” starts with a quote from Jack Welch spotlighting this very issue. The comments, however, fall short of giving any real framework on how to develop a strategy for succession planning.
The Leadership Pipeline, Charan, Drotter, & Noel (Josey-Bass, 2011)
This book, as with most others, speaks to building a culture of leadership development within an organization. It does little to address the personal issues of retirement needed to equip the exiting leader.
Necessary Endings, Henry Cloud (Harper-Collins, 2010)
The author does a great job in illustrating the value of ending things well. He does not, however, develop this idea in the context of retirement.
Succession, Marshall Goldsmith (Harvard Business School Publishing, 2009)
Of all the books sampled this is the only one that develops the need for having a plan to retire well. This is a very good book, but is targeted specifically towards CEO’s and does nothing to build the theme from a biblical worldview.
Leadership Books Targeting Churches:
The Leadership Baton, Foreman, Jones, & Miller (Zondervan, 2004)
This is a must read for any church leader who wants to develop a culture of leadership. This book does not give clear insight and direction to help leaders understand how to prepare their organizations for their retirement.
The Elephant in the Boardroom, Weese & Crabtree (Jossey-Bass, 2004)
Weese and Crabtree do a good job addressing the issue of retirement. There is incredible wisdom and insight in this book, but it is limited in its application to churches only.
Most, if not all, of the material on leadership he has developed is geared to help build current leaders, or prepare future ones. He has provided nothing of real substance on preparing leaders to step away from their jobs.
Can you see the HOLE?!
This is not even close to an exhaustive list of books on leadership, but you can see my point. There is a lot of material available to help leaders lead well, but there is very little to help retiring leaders understand how to leave well.
This issue impacts every organization in every sector of society. Pastors, denominational leaders, and Christ-followers in the public sector are uniquely positioned to model what healthy transitions can and should look like.
Lead Servant is committed to help fill this hole!
Are you aware of resources designed to address this issue? We would love to share them with our readership. You can email the information to us by clicking this link.
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