Part of leadership includes succession planning. This does not mean that every leader has a short shelf life, but that a leader’s work can be deepened while developing other leaders within the organisation.

succession_planningIt is important for the organisation and its board to feel comfortable that if the leader left the organisation for whatever reason, that its relationships were not in jeopardy, especially its donor relationships and key partnerships. In addition, the board would be concerned that if the leader left, there would be someone to fill his/her shoes in an acting capacity until a new leader is appointed.This does not mean that the leader chooses a specific successor, but rather that the leader’s work is deepened in the organisation.  A plan needs to be translated into action and developing other leaders within the organisation with the correct skills is a key component of succession planning.  Besides staff development and training, other senior staff need to be able to carry the relationships with the organisation’s principal partners and supporters.

  • This means that they should be introduced to and given frequent opportunities to engage with the organisation’s principal partners and supporters.
  • They should be brought into meetings with significant constituencies and their leaders; have a good understanding of organisational strategy; know the board members and participate in regular financial decision making.
  • Donors also need to feel comfortable that should there be a leadership change, that the leadership transition in the organisation will be well managed, that the organisation will continue running as usual and that there are mechanisms to maintain its programmes.

Providing chances for others to act as leader for short periods of time also enhance the organisation’s capacity to build in succession planning opportunities.

Author: Shelagh Gastrow , Executive Director – Inyathelo: The South African Institute for Advancement