Friday, February 27, 2009

Is succession the test of leadership? How do you exit? With grace or विथ grass?

Is succession the test of leadership? How to you exit? With grace or with grass?

Mention five greatest leaders of the free world in the last century.
Who are the last America Idol finals in the last five seasons?
Mention five greatest scientific inventors and inventions of this decade.
Who are the last five Noble Prize awards winners?
Who is the reigning Miss America and Miss Universe?
Mention five Dove Award and five Golden Globe Awards Winners for 2008.
If this is a real exam, many will be thinking of making a “D” by now.

Compare those questions with these questions:
Mention five people who have inspired you in your career or life.
Mention five people you will regard as your heroes since your childhood. Mention five teachers, mentors or instructors that have impacted your life or changed your life forever.
Mention three people who were there when you were at the bottom--friends closer than a brother.

Mention five people you’ll be delighted to have a lunch with.
The later sets of questions are simpler than the former ones. Right? Who are the real leaders? Those with much awards, accolades and recognitions or those that make remarkable difference in your life? Real leaders are those that make a difference in people. They want to leave a footprint on the sands of times. They are fathers who look onto their children to be greater than them. They are mentors who are not afraid of the mentored. “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it”~ Dwight Eisenhower.

It’s my opinion that leadership continuity is a strategic imperative for corporate survival or the survival of any vision. While it could be argued that the test of leadership, among other things, are keeping your head in stressful times and charting the future, succession seems to be the ultimate test of leadership.

How many leaders that burned the bridge can you remember? May be, you remember the sigh of relieve at the mention of their names. It does not make sense to burn the bridge because everything that goes around comes around. You may need that bridge you burn today someday. But what is most important about exit is succession and continuity. I believe that the test of leadership is succession. The biggest failure is not necessarily one that did not succeed but one that succeeded without a successor—then everything he built is rubbished in twinkle of an eye.

A gentleman is one that even though he wants you to go to blazes, he packages and delivers it in such a manner that the recipient receives it with thanks. Wisdom is profitable to direct. Can we say that even in the worst scenario, exit with grace? It all depends. Wait, while it is always best to leave with grace when ever possible, that is not always the case. It is a good idea not to burn the bridge but sometimes the bridge is burned by others and for good reasons. So, let the sleeping dog to lie.

Do you have a successor? Succession planning process, which is a continuous, intentional methodical endeavor organizations perform to guarantee “…leadership continuity in key positions,” (Rothwell, W. (2002). What are your plans to make a difference in the lives of the people you are leading and guarantee continuity? The test of leadership is succession. What do you think?

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