The Key Elements of a CEO Succession Plan

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The search for Uber’s next CEO has become a hot topic on the internet and in offices everywhere. One aspect that the search calls attention to is the subject of succession planning. With the departure of their entire C suite, Uber has left no internal candidates for the CEO role.

According to the quote from Right Management in their “Most Likely to Lead” report “87 percent of employers surveyed said they do not believe they have the future leaders needed to fill critical roles.”

Given that, it’s important to discuss the elements of a good succession plan.

Firstly, a CEO Success Profile should be established by the Board of Directors in collaboration with the internal Chief People Officer  and/or an external retained executive search firm. This profile should include all the skills, capabilities, and competencies necessary for success in the CEO role. Among the executive team, identify those talent who show an interest in the position and an aptitude to lead and evaluate them against that CEO success profile. Ideally, the talent pipeline should begin with 2 or 3 CEO succession candidates with an overall goal of 7 candidates in the talent pipeline. These candidates should continually interact with the Board and the health of the pipeline should be a consistent Board agenda.

Once identified, strategies for the learning, training, and development of these candidates needs to be incorporated, and the transfer of corporate knowledge needs to be planned for. The talent development strategy for the CEO pipeline should be strongly tied to your business strategy both short and long term. In addition, outside candidates that align with the CEO Success Profile should also be identified as part of the talent pipeline for CEO.

From there, it’s a process of evaluating the effort to ensure that succession plans for all key areas and positions are developed and that key positions, not just the CEO, are filled expediently. For a succession plan is more than just about making sure one executive role is filled. It’s about making sure your entire executive team has a bench of strong talent to rely on for the long term.