Let me use the Sri Lankan cricket team to explain why Corporates and sports teams alike should plan for succession of key people. Sri Lanka was given a boxing day test in Australia after 17 odd years and you would expect that they would be motivated to do well and passionate to achieve excellence and the rest of it.
But what happened is history! Sri Lanka’s batsmen were left with a feeling of helplessness and inevitability as Australia completed a fearful mauling in the Boxing Day Test. The match was over by 2.10pm on the third afternoon. This gave the Sri Lankans some extra shopping and relaxation! Did any of the players take responsibility or accountability for their actions? Did they fear for their place on the team?I don’t think so. Most of the players in the Sri Lankan team, woke up the next day after the MCG test without any of them fearing for their place in the team. It was business as usual for them.
Why can’t any of these players be dropped? Because there is no succession plan for their replacement. They’re the only ones Sri Lanka have, and half of them have passed the use by date! When people, whether in business or sports feel indispensable, they lose their passion, lose competitiveness and stop going the extra mile. Look around in your offices. If you’re promoting the ‘best among the worst’ then there is something critically wrong in the company.
Succession planning is one of those initiatives that many companies don’t find the time to start until it’s too late. Just like our cricket team corporates need to address succession planning now otherwise you may end up like the cricket team and manage with the 2nd best.
Anyone who follows Australian cricket would agree that they continuously feed their team with high performing young talent which keeps their seniors on their toes. Similarly, corporates that understand the need to manage the development of their high performers are a step ahead of their competitors! The effort required to establish a development program for future leaders is worthwhile because it creates a motivated and capable group of employees that are ready to move forward in the company when the need arises.
Not planning for succession is like planning to fail.