By Matt Paese, Ph.D.
A few months ago, The Conference Board Review published an article I wrote about CEO succession—“Your Next CEO”. At that time, business was in a different place than it is today. I set out to make the point that CEO succession is not just a decision, but rather an ongoing process in which senior leaders are constantly reaching higher.
I also made the point that to sustain a leadership advantage, organizations must give leaders targets that reflect where the business is going—not just where it is today. So, now in this climate of survival and uncertainty, has the economic crisis made my point moot? Is it folly to be focusing on long-range leadership continuity when we don't know what will happen next week?
I don't think so. In fact, I think it's now more important than it was before the economy melted down.
In the last few months, we’ve witnessed many CEOs paraded out of their corner offices. Did they fail the organization, or did the organization fail to select a leader who could not only guide great momentum, but also protect the core of the business in a crisis?
Protect the core. A mandate pregnant with questions. What is the core? Your products? Your infrastructure? Your customers? Your people? I have my opinions, but whatever you decide, ask yourself who will stand guard over it. It's true that few of us can divine the new realities that will emerge from this crisis. But we are not powerless to position ourselves for the comeback.
Desperation may tempt (even force) us to see wisdom in short-term thinking. It feels good to survive when death is the alternative.
But this is not the time to look away from leadership capability. To poise yourself for a quick rebound when the economy turns again, this is the time to look closer.
Matt Paese is the Vice President of Executive Solutions for Development Dimensions International (DDI).