Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Successor Story

I talked with a leader today inside an organization going through a CEO transition. In their case, the current EVP will become President and the President, after a sabbatical, will assume limited responsibilities as Chancellor. There were several points in the story that interested me:

  • There was certainly success in the organization. Over the past dozen or so years, the size of the organization has increased by a multiple of ten. Their current budget exceeds $125 million.

  • The current President seemed to initiate the process, signaling a number of years ago that the Board might want to prepare for a transition. They created an EVP position and hired someone to fill the position that could be a successor.

  • After some time had passed, it was apparent that the EVP could serve as President. The EVP was appointed President-elect for some months.

  • The new President is now poised to build on the trend of success, while having the former President serving in the organization as Chancellor. The Chancellor will have opportunity to shepherd some favorite projects, continue in fundraising, and transfer key relationships to the new President.

The axiom, to which I referred in the last post, goes “there is no success without a successor.” This case emphasizes that all of this starts with
. The Board, in this case, was motivated to continue the clear success in the organization. They were motivated to continue the vision of the CEO through a successor, and they were motivated to continue the current president’s influence in a different role.

I think it is easy to see how a similar approach could work in a church situation. Given the right circumstances, including an open minded Board and a secure and self-aware pastor, a transition like this could work. If a pastor is leading a church with success, there's no reason that a pastor couldn't work with a Board to bring-up a successor, and that pastor continue to have some influence in an emeritus role.

P.S. - Check out this article on Bootstrapping ( it is a must read


Josh said...

I have done very little research on Jack Welsch, but from what I have read and heard, he created a very strong leadership track with his organization which insured that he had a number of strong candidates to move into the EVP role. I was very intrigued with both the identification of a new leader and the intentional preparation of this new leader.

I think you are right in that we could learn a tremendous lesson from these examples. A question I often heard in my most recent large church position was, "Why does God's vision change every time the pastor does?" Could we remedy issues like these with strong succession and in the end, ensure greater oragnizational success.

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Anonymous said...

Very nice and intrestingss story.