Leadership Succession

Is it necessary for Citigroup to have a leadership succession plan? Why?
Leadership succession planning is very important from two perspectives. First of all, it helps to select highly-potential candidates, who have strong leadership abilities and possess all necessary qualities to assume high administrative positions in the future. Besides, leadership succession plan also includes the measures on giving a wide range of learning, training and development opportunities for such individuals in order to improve their professional performance, proficiency, managerial abilities, leadership skills, and so on.

Undoubtedly, if Citigroup does not pay attention on the situation around Sandy Weill right now, the company’s risk to be left without an effective leader will be increasing. Sandy Weill is a man over 70, and at this age his professional abilities as an executive can get worse at any time. That is why, I suppose, there is an urgent vital need for the company to select and start preparing someone who would be able to succeed Mr. Weill.

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For large organizations and corporations specialists suggest establishing special Leadership Planning Boards, which would carry out the main activities on leadership succession planning. Such activities have to include identifying critical positions, establishing criteria and identifying the best candidates (at least two for one position), reviewing and monitoring their professional progress and personal development, interviewing and evaluating every candidate and coming up with some conclusions and suggestions.

Undoubtedly, such departments as Business Human Resources Units or Corporate Human Resources Departments have to be also involved in leadership succession planning process. They have to assist Leadership Planning Boards and give all necessary information about potential candidates. Top managers from Board of Directors or Chief Officers have to take all the responsibilities on supervising and controlling the effectiveness of leadership succession planning process (Tennessee Valley Authority, 2000).

3. Should the succession plan include insiders? Outsiders? Or both?

I think that it is preferable for any company or organization to select the candidates from the insiders. If there are qualified and talented managers, who worked and had opportunity to develop together with the company for some time, they are certainly better aware of the specifics of company’s business, strategies of management, organizational culture and traditions, etc. Moreover, they could already win some reputation and respect of the employees; therefore, they are potentially effective leaders or top managers.

But there can be a situation when there are good outside candidates, who had no experience of working with the company. In such case, I suppose, it is necessary not only to interview such candidates and estimate their potential effectiveness, but also involve them into business activities of the company as soon as possible. I strongly believe that working closely with the leaders and learning more and more from them is a key factor for good performance of any successor.

4. Why do executives such as Weill avoid the succession issue?

I think that Mr. Weill can have some personal reasons for doing this. Possibly, he does not take leadership succession as a reality or does not want someone to be on his back. Maybe he assumes any succession plan as the necessity of his resignation or as a sign of lack of trust from his colleagues. There’s also probability that he is trying to avoid all succession plan initiatives in order to prove own competence and uniqueness.

Nevertheless, I believe that this situation is not a typical one, especially for such huge organizations as Citigroup. Usually, top managers and executives demonstrate concern about their organizations and get actively involved in succession planning. They can point on some possible successors, work with them, train and promote them in order to prepare such candidates for taking higher positions and make them understand, what the organization requires to remain successful.

References:

Leadership/Succession Planning. (2000) Tennessee Valley Authority. Retrieved June 29, 2007, from: <http://www.tva.gov/foia/readroom/policy/prinprac/intstaffplan1.htm>.
Ritter, J. (2003, April 15) Succession Planning: A Tool for Success. The Galt Global Review. Galt Western Personnel Ltd. Retrieved June 29, 2007, from: <http://www.galtglobalreview.com/business/succession.html >.

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