Safeguard Your Company's Future

Succession planning is undoubtedly one of the most crucial elements in securing the long-term prosperity of any business. Surprisingly, many leaders overlook its significance, leading to disastrous consequences and potential public relations nightmares. A recent case at Disney serves as a striking example of how inadequate succession planning can wreak havoc on an organization. Rhett Power discusses this in a recent Forbes article, “3 Succession Planning Mistakes Your Company Can’t Afford To Make”:

“For 15 years, Bob Iger led Disney as the powerhouse brand’s CEO. When he was ready to step aside in 2020, Bob Chapek took his place. The only issue? Iger apparently wasn’t really ready to step aside at all. Instead, he installed himself as the executive chairman directing the company’s creative endeavors and chairman of the board. Within two short years, Chapek was ousted, and Iger returned. Though there were numerous reasons for Chapek’s departure, a lack of proper succession planning probably tops the list.”

To avoid falling into a similar trap, it is vital to identify and steer clear of common succession planning mistakes. Drawing insights from Power’s article, let’s explore three significant stumbling blocks and provide guidance on how to navigate them successfully.

1. Waiting Until You Need a Leader to Plan

One of the biggest mistakes companies make is procrastinating – delaying succession planning until they urgently require a new leader. Waiting until a leadership position becomes vacant can lead to knee-jerk decisions, inadequate preparation, and negative consequences for the organization. A well-considered succession plan acts as a roadmap, providing clear guidelines and a smooth transition process.

Communicating decisions to employees during this transition is crucial. Striking a balance between confidentiality and transparency ensures that high-performing team members remain committed and don't abandon ship. According to Gallup, conflicts with leadership are a significant factor in employee resignations. To avoid this, make sure your succession plan includes a clear communication strategy.

2. Neglecting the Importance of Cultural Alignment

Every company has its unique culture, and it is essential to consider this when planning for succession. Choosing a leader who doesn't align with the company's culture can lead to a multitude of problems, including a lack of trust and a sense of being out of place.

Evaluating potential candidates based on cultural fit is critical. Taking the time to clarify and document your leadership culture, along with its best and worst aspects, can guide stakeholders to find the right candidate. Though this process may take time, interim leadership arrangements can help ensure a smooth transition without compromising cultural alignment.

3. Forgetting to Include Inclusivity in Succession Plans

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives are essential for any modern company. Unfortunately, these initiatives are sometimes overlooked during succession planning, leading to biased decisions and perpetuating old-fashioned practices.

To ensure inclusivity in succession planning, companies must go beyond the “heir apparent” mindset and consider candidates both internally and externally. Redefining executive job descriptions, updating interviewing and onboarding procedures, and focusing on skill sets, experience, and education can help identify the best candidates, irrespective of their background.

Succession planning is an essential process for any organization. By avoiding these common pitfalls, companies can navigate leadership transitions with confidence and ensure stability and continuity. Proactively planning for leadership changes, considering cultural alignment, and embracing inclusivity will enable businesses to protect their longevity, cultivate strong leadership, and continue achieving operational success.

Remember, just as a ship needs a reliable captain to sail smoothly through rough waters, a well-executed succession plan is the compass that guides an organization through periods of change, ensuring it remains on course towards a prosperous future.


Material discussed in this communication is meant to provide general information and should not be acted on without obtaining professional advice tailored to you or your company’s individual and specific needs. Any tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used by any person or entity, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. This information is for general guidance only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date; however, BTA makes no guarantee as to accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information within this communication and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages from its display or use. Any forward-looking statements are believed to be reasonable; however, BTA gives no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct.

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