Soundview Executive Book Summaries

Planning for Your Own Replacement
January 19, 2009, 8:18 PM
Filed under: Leadership | Tags:

“If I announce my successor in advance, isn’t there a danger that I will just become a lame duck? I certainly wouldn’t want that to happen.”

This is the kind of reaction Marshall Goldsmith hears as he coaches top executives around the world. And in his upcoming book Succession: Are You Ready? he gives us the answer.

Dr. Goldsmith cuts right to the chase by counseling CEOs to “make peace with being a lame duck before it actually happens.” He notes that it’s inevitable that you will become a lame duck as people begin to shift their attention to your successor. So instead of fighting this, Goldsmith recommends that you shift your attention to the future. Among his recommendations:

  1. Coach your successor behind the scenes.
  2. Begin the transfer of power before you have to and support him or her in any way you can.
  3. Involve your successor in all important decisions.
  4. Make the tough, unpopular decisions that are for the good of the company instead of worrying about finishing on a good note.
  5. Be a happy lame duck – go home a little earlier, spend more time with your family, go to your grandkid’s baseball games.

This is great advice not only for CEOs, but also for any leader who is handing over job responsibilities. Wouldn’t our lives be less stressful and more enjoyable if we could be of help and focus on the future? But this is the advice one would expect from Marshall Goldsmith, whose motto is “Life is good.”


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