Leadership Transition Planning


10 Best Planning Practices

1. Plan continuously.
2. Transition from the previous plan.
3. Set a solid foundation.
4. Begin with the end in mind.
5. Turn the mirror outward.
6. Be bold.
7. Do your part to make your plan successful.
8. Make sure the plan is actionable and gets off to a good start.
9. Make strategic thinking central to decision-making.
10. Communicate thoroughly and often.

There are just three types of leadership transition planning challenges: 

Meeting

1) strategic leadership development for succession, 2) unexpected or sudden departure, and 3) planned departure. Below are a few strategic ways to think about each.

Strategic leadership development for succession should be part of your plan to build organizational capacity from within. It is often and wisely accomplished through a combination of strategic planning to identify future needs, personal goal-setting to identify human potential, professional development to develop capacity, and mentoring to sustain it.

The third leadership transition challenge — a planned departure — presents the best case scenario for managing change because it affords the lead time to create and implement a successful transition plan. While lead times will vary, the optimum is 18 months prior to the installation of a new chief executive. Structures, processes, and above all communication are critical to successful leadership transitions.

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The third leadership transition challenge — a planned departure — presents the best case scenario for managing change because it affords the lead time to create and implement a successful transition plan. While lead times will vary, the optimum is 18 months prior to the installation of a new chief executive. Structures, processes, and above all communication are critical to successful leadership transitions.

Regardless of the reason that the top leader will no longer be the lead vision-bearer, stakeholders need and expect the same thing: stable leadership in times of change. Invaluable in meeting this expectation are three key elements: a Leadership Transition Team, a written Transition Plan, and strategic communication.

CSP's Knowledge Center gives your leadership team ways to think about and plan for leadership transitions through our downloadable Leadership Transition Planning Advisory Series. Below are examples of what you'll find in CSP's Leadership Transition Planning Advisory Series.

Shaping a Successful Leadership Transition Through Strategic Communication

Traditional Top 10 Communication Messages in Times of Change

This is a list of the top ten messages any organization should be sure to communicate to constituents during times of change:

• Why change?
•  What will happen if we don't change?
• What will it be like to change?
• What will change?
• What will not change?
• Who will lead the change?
• How will we manage the change?
• When will the change occur?
• Re the individual: What will be expected of me? What will happen if I don't participate in the change? What are my rewards if I do?
• Re the individual: How does the change affect me and my ability to do my job and maintain my relationships?

Communication Messages in Times of Leadership Transitions

The tables below present a model and an approach to using the traditional top ten messages to shape a communications plan during times of leadership transition in organizations. All core messages should be reinforced repetitively and consistently by all organizational leadership. An effort should be made to gain the early support of gatekeepers and other key influencers who may not be part of the official leadership team as ambassadors of the core transition messages.


Impacting a Successful Leadership Transition Using Strategic Communication
 

Strategic Influence Goal Strategic Emphases Tactical Implementation Examples
 
Board

Set the Tone for Transition and Inspire Confidence in Institutional Direction and Continuity


  • Board Engagement
  • Board Self-Assessment
  • Institutional Stability and Continuity
  • Strategic Direction
  • Balanced Celebration of Outgoing Leadership
  • Organizational Strengths and Ongoing Vitality
  • These Are the Circumstances of the Transition
  • This Is Our Transition Team
  • This Is Our Transition Plan
  • Here Is How We Will Find a New Leader and This Is Our Timing
  • After a Successful Search We are Ready and Able To Support the New Leader
  • We Unconditionally Support the New Leader
  • We Will Retain and Support What Is Precious About Our Institution While Being Open To New Ideas and Directions
  • To Donors and Other Influential Supporters - the Transition Should Have No Negative Impact On Unfinished Projects

Strategic Influence Goal Strategic Emphases Tactical Implementation Examples
 
New Leader

Establish the Leader's Brand and the Value-Added It Creates


  • Core Values
  • Vision
  • Goals
  • Expectations
  • Priorities
  • Accessibility
  • This Is Who I Am
  • This Is What I care About
  • These Are My Priorities
  • This Is My Timeline
  • These Are My Expectations
  • This Is Where You Fit In
  • These Are the Ways I Will Keep You Informed
  • These Are the Feedback Loops I Have Put in Place Because I Want To Hear From You
  • The Tasks of Transition Will Not Eclipse Person-To-Person Relationships

Strategic Influence Goal Strategic Emphases Tactical Implementation Examples
 
Transition Messages

Inform, Neutralize Negative Opinion, Establish Relevancy, Garner Support


  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • Why
  • How
  • This Is What Will Change and Why
  • This Is What Will Not Change
  • This Is How and When Change Will Occur
  • This Is Who Will Lead the Change
  • This Is How the Change Will Affect You and Your Ability To Perform Your Job
  • These Are the Benefits Of Participating In the Change and The Risks of Not

Strategic Influence Goal Strategic Emphases Tactical Implementation Examples
 
Vision Messages

Inspire Buy-In and Participation Necessary for a successful Transition To New Leadership


  • Shift Focus from What and How to Results
  • Expected Outcomes, Benefits, and Relevance of a Successful Transition
  • This Is What a Successful Leadership Transition Will Look Like and Mean To Our Institution
  • This Is What a Successful Leadership Transition Will Mean To You
  • This Is How You Can Make a Difference In Achieving This Vision


Leadership Transition Advisory #1 Leadership Transition Action Plan
Leadership Transition Planning Advisory #2 Leadership Transition Planning
Leadership Transition Advisory #3 Shaping a Successful Leadership Transition through Strategic Communication
Leadership Transition Tool #3 SWOT Transition Worksheet
Leadership TransitionPlanning Advisory #4 Leadership Transition Planning