Insights for Leaders

The Final Test: Succession

Posted on: May 21st, 2012 | 0 Comments

“The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and will to carry on.” — Walter Lippmann

In 2000, after 24 years of growing Home Depot to $46 billion in revenues, founders Arthur Blank and Bernie Marcus began to see their most significant oversightthey never prepared leaders inside the company to replace them. Looking back, Mr. Marcus observed: “Because Arthur and I were always there, our people never developed the talent they need to run the companyOur presence created this wall.”

Jim Collins writes in How the Mighty Fall, “Leaders who fail the process of succession set their enterprises on a path to decline. Sometimes they wait too long; sometimes they never address the question at all; sometimes they have bad luck and their chosen successor leaves or dies….and sometimes they just flat out pick badly.”

The Bottom Line: Leaders tackle the complex challenge of succession planning, realizing it is the ultimate and final leadership test.