Crafting the future: effective succession planning
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Crafting the future: effective succession planning

Practical advice for senior executives on selecting, developing and transitioning future leaders

Ensuring the smooth transition of senior leadership is crucial for maintaining business stability and performance. The stakes are high: a poorly managed transition can lead to a decline in organisational strength.

It’s evident that many organisations struggle when their key leaders leave because the strengths of the organisation were heavily tied to a few individuals.

In one instance, a major corporation experienced a significant drop in performance following the transition of its senior leadership. Their departure left a void that was not adequately filled due to insufficient succession planning. This underscores the necessity of having a robust plan that does not overly rely on the capabilities of a single person.

What to Look for in Succession Planning?

When selecting potential successors, it’s essential to be realistic about the attributes and qualifications needed. Focus on identifying the following most critical attributes first:

1. Aspiration and Willingness: It’s vital that a successor shows a genuine desire and readiness to shoulder greater responsibilities. This drive is a core indicator of their alignment with the company’s vision and their readiness to lead when the time comes.

2. Ability to Learn and Adapt: Leaders aren’t just born; they are made through continuous learning and adaptation. A potential leader must thrive on acquiring new skills and adapting to changing environments to drive the company forward.

3. Cultural Fit and Leadership Impact: The right successor should resonate with your company’s culture and possess the ability to nurture an environment that supports your future business objectives. True leadership impact extends beyond mere authority — it’s about earning the team’s support and trust.

How to Develop Your Next Leaders?

Developing a successor is a nuanced process that goes beyond assigning new titles or tasks. It involves a structured developmental journey:

1. Exposure to New Perspectives: We need to challenge our successors with tasks that stretch their capabilities and broaden their horizons. This can include taking on projects in unfamiliar departments or working closely with various stakeholders.

2. Mentorship and Coaching: Continuous mentorship and coaching are crucial. I believe in pairing successors with mentors who can provide personal insights, share experiences and guide them through complex challenges.

3. Real Business Engagement: It’s essential to engage successors in actual business operations rather than hypothetical projects. This real-world involvement is key to evaluating their potential and readiness for leadership roles.

Keeping Track of Progress

Monitoring the development of future leaders is a continuous commitment:

1. Continuous Assessment: Frequent feedback and real-time evaluations are necessary to understand how successors manage actual work challenges.

2. Recognising Leadership Limitations: It’s important to identify each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. Understanding these limits helps us tailor development plans that address specific needs and enhance overall leadership qualities.

Effective succession planning is pivotal for any organisation focused on sustained success. By pinpointing the right qualities, offering substantial development opportunities, and continually assessing progress, we can facilitate a seamless leadership transition that upholds our strategic vision.

These insights, gathered from real-world experiences and expert advice, underscore the need for a proactive and thoughtful approach to preparing the next wave of organisational leaders.

As we reflect on these strategies, I encourage you to critically assess your own succession planning efforts. Are they robust enough to prepare the future leaders who will propel your organisation forward? The continuity and growth of your business may well depend on it.

Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer, Managing Director and Founder at SEAC — Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Centre. She is fascinated by the challenge of transforming education for all to create better prospects for Thais and people everywhere. Executives and organisations looking to collaborate or learn more about leadership development, succession planning and organisational transformation can contact her directly at or connect with her on LinkedIn at

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