People + Strategy Journal

Fall 2021

The Takeaway: A Discussion Guide

Effective succession planning relies on several stakeholders working off the same playbook. The out-going leader, the board, succession candidates, and other internal and external parties have an impact on how well the leader turnover will occur.

The Takeaway: A Discussion Guide

​Effective succession planning relies on several stakeholders working off the same playbook. The out-going leader, the board, succession candidates, and other internal and external parties have an impact on how well the leader turnover will occur. In creating your organization’s playbook, here’s a quick summary of crucial conversations for leadership and HR.

Is succession something you’re doing to your candidates or with your candidates? From The Big Question column, ask yourselves these questions:

  • How does our process develop succession candidates rather than merely assess them?
  • How do we craft a more personal and interactive framework to develop internal talent while staying informed on external top talent?
  • What does a structured approach to measuring the effectiveness of our talent development program look like, and how can we improve it?
  • What opportunities can we provide our talent to close the gap between their current skills and experiences and future potential?
  • What other leaders has each candidate developed, and have those leaders deployed primarily within the candidate’s organization or across the enterprise? How are we equipping our leaders as talent developers?


Virtual onboarding is not meant to be complicated. … According to many HR leaders, the creation of shared virtual learning experiences has proven crucial for middle management, as onboarding and bringing new team members into the fold during the pandemic has been one of the most complicated challenges. 
—Stephen Miles and Deb Bubb, Adopting Virtual Onboarding for CEO Transitions



How do we introduce the subject of succession to our current CEO? From
“The Art of Leaving” article, questions to consider include:

  • What role do we need our CEO to play in his or her own succession?
  • What role will the board need to play in succession?
  • What role will the chosen successor need to play in succession?
  • How will those three roles intersect, and are we clear on how we will manage through the inevitable tensions that may arise?


Boards can also ask questions of candidates like, ‘What’s the worst thing you’ve done to another human being?’ There’s no right or wrong answer, but in a very complex world where there’s so much ideological change, and social, cultural, and ESG challenges, it’s another approach for getting an understanding of how a candidate thinks.
—Dambisa Moyo, Directors Roundtable



Reflect on the
“Directors Failing to Act Is the Biggest Barrier to the Boardroom” article. In terms of diversifying on the board front, ask yourselves these questions:
  • What could our organization gain from having compensation tied in part to diversity, equity and inclusion outcomes in the business?
  • What on-ramps or obstacles are we placing in front of our senior diverse talent in terms of getting the boardroom experience? 
  • How are our internal policies reflective of our efforts to add women and underrepresented minorities to our director searches?
  • How do we plan for future strategic needs around our board table, as well as manage planned director turnover?