The Most Common Mistakes of Board Succession Planning


The succession process is challenging, time-consuming, and an important political task in the highest sense of the word. This period can be challenging to say the least for executives and directors. The board of directors needs to follow a clear plan and dedication. In this article, we’ll break down the most common board mistakes during succession planning to help your company avoid these mistakes and allow all parties involved to benefit from the experience.

Failure to align strategy

Before moving directly to the election of a future CEO, the board must solidify the right strategic direction for the company.  Mistakenly, board members believe that the plan and strategy they have is well formulated, but experienced board members discuss, negotiate, and approve these strategies in advance. This is because the decisions they made today will act and influence the current and future leaders the company will need in the future. That is why this first stage of strategy approval is so important because it facilitates a smooth succession process and assists in the selection of a truly qualified candidate.

Excessive involvement of the entire board

Even though the succession process is challenging, that doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting. That’s why almost all board members are so eager to get involved. But too many people will cause unnecessary turmoil and other problems, so to conduct the succession process more properly, it is worth allocating a separate group of the most professional leaders who will have time to do so. Members of this committee will manage the process and do the careful and time-consuming work of evaluating and benchmarking candidates for the role of future board leader.

The most appropriate number of people to serve on this committee is no more than four. Also, as already mentioned, these people should have free time to engage in this process, because if a board member is an executive in another organization, he will not be able to properly perform his duties.

The other board members who have not been included on this committee should still be kept in the loop, but only at certain points. This will allow the board not to get stuck on the details, but also to have an adequate understanding of what is going on.

Too late to complete internal tasks

The board should develop and approve a list of basic qualifications that should be required to be hired as an executive. Once this has been done, it is worth moving as quickly as possible to evaluate internal candidates. The key to success for this position will be the candidates’ ability to devote time to their areas of development. This assessment process will also help those candidates who are not yet ready to take on the leadership role before the next transition.

Forgetting the importance of professional development

By rule, review and evaluation of internal candidates should take place a couple of years before the election so that candidates can gain the experience required to be able to function in the role. But the board needs to be careful that they don’t have competition in these early stages of the election.

The best solution, in this case, is proper development and training that promotes the experience and professionalism of your board, this will play to everyone’s advantage regardless of further decisions during the succession process.

Already working in their position, many people forget how much training matters. You need to make continuous learning an important part of your board’s activities. This will broaden your knowledge and also create new skills that will help your company grow.