Should you name your own successor as an executive?

Executives often work long hours and handle many matters simultaneously for the business that they help operate. Once you understand the demands of your position at a company, you are in a unique position to understand who else could do the same job that you do.

Succession planning can be an important part of your executive responsibilities. Creating a succession plan could help with an easier transition if you have to unexpectedly step down from your position.

Naming a successor could make the transition process even smoother because there won’t be a desperate search for the right candidate. Is picking your own successor the ideal way to handle your succession plan?

Timing and perspective determine whether choosing someone is best

If you anticipate that you will remain at the company for at least a few more decades, then naming a specific candidate to take over your position likely isn’t realistic. You have no idea how that person’s career will develop or if they will even still be alive when your time comes to retire. The longer you think it will be before the succession takes place, the less realistic it may be to pick one specific person as your successor.

Similarly, if you own a family business, the relationships with your loved ones might cloud your judgment regarding who would be best for the position. You might select the person you care about rather than the person who is most competent. If you believe that either the passage of time or your personal relationships would alter or undermine your suggestion, then it may be a better approach to list criteria for qualified candidates rather than people in your succession plan.

What does your position require?

If you choose to outline educational and work history requirements to help the business choose a successor, you need to apply your knowledge of the company to the creation of that list. It’s important that you don’t just duplicate your own credentials but rather think about what education would have made your job easier and what unique traits have helped you achieve success.

With careful consideration, succession planning can help ensure the continuity of a business and ensure that the right person moves into your role when the time comes for you to leave the company.

 

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