Long-term sustainable growth of any organization is based on the ability to transition leadership effectively, efficiently, and decisively. It is this reason succession planning should be a high priority for senior leaders to develop. Succession planning is a design of stabilization of organizational leadership to insure continued effective performance by providing strategic training, replacement, and application of key people over time (Rothwell ,2010). Through the process of succession planning, an organization is enabled to ensure leadership continuity, retain intellectual capital, and encourage organizational leadership development (Rothwell, 2010). Personnel change at key leadership positions can potentially set an organization years behind they may never recover from if not done properly. Effective succession planning must be an intentional adaptation of specific procedures to insure proper identification, development and long term retention of leaders in advance of necessary, or even unexpected, change (Hansen, & Wexler, 1988).
Succession planning appears extremely challenging for ministry leaders. A staggering number of 44% of ministry leaders rate their succession preparation as either ‘poor’ or ‘fair’, 48% as good, while only 8% were ‘outstanding’ (Bird, 2015). This is alarming since ministry leaders should be emulating Jesus’ model of servant leadership, which is based on the innate desire of an individual to serve first, making the highest priority the needs of others to provide a healthier, wiser, freer, and more autonomous lifestyle to become servants themselves (Northouse, 2013). As a servant leader, Jesus calls his followers to disciple others just as he did (Mt 28:19-20) to carry on his mission after he left them. As ministers, reflections of Jesus, succession planning should be more than a task to be completed for organizational sustainability, it should be a priority of fulfilling the Great Commission. Christ’s bride, the church, deserves stability of leadership through the expected, and unexpected, changes that occur.
Bird, W. (2015). Succession Readiness Study: Landscape of Large Church Pastors (pp. pp. 1–6). Dallas, TX: Leadership Network.
Fulmer, R. M., Stumpf, S. A., & Bleak, J. (2009). The strategic development of high potential leadersnull. Strategy & Leadership, 37(3), 17–22. http://doi.org/10.1108/10878570910954600
Hansen, R., & Wexler, R. H. (1988). Effective succession planning. Employment Relations Today, 15(1), 19–24. http://doi.org/10.1002/ert.3910150104
Northouse, P. G. (2013). Leadership: theory and practice (6th ed). Thousand Oaks: SAGE.