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There Is No Success Without A Successor

Updated: May 28

Henry leads a lucrative business in North Carolina. It is a very successful 100-year-old business. The company generates over 100 million in revenue and employs 179. He is the President, CEO, Manager, H.R. office, and sole check signer. He lives the company. The business is his life, his purpose, and his identity. He is the decision-maker for the company. Everything revolves around him. For four generations, Henry's company has blessed the community. Directly and indirectly, through all its vendors, it has provided many jobs. The ripple effect in the community is phenomenal. The business's success provides a platform for Henry's values, generosity, and impact. But there is a big problem. Not embracing the reality that the business will outlive him, Henry is stuck. Sooner or later, he will vacate his role. He will not live forever. This lack of planning jeopardizes the company's success in his absence. Henry has not embraced the idea that there is no success without a successor. Lesson: Not embracing the reality of your inevitable exit from your business jeopardizes its future impact. One day, something will demand your departure from your business. It is an absolute reality. You will not live forever. You will not man your post forever. Knowing this reality and not planning for it is foolish. When you acknowledge that your business will outlive you, succession planning has begun. Lesson: Accepting the fact of your eventual exit from your business is the first step in succession planning. In two decades, as CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch grew G.E. into the most valuable company on earth. At the time of his departure, "G.E. was the envy of the business world... [But] by the time Welch died, the company had become a stunning symbol of gargantuan strategic mistakes and executive incompetence." (Forbes). Welch is now most known for one horrible blunder: His failed succession planning. On his departure, the company nose-dived. Realizing that there is no success without a successor, Henry now needs to lead the charge for the company's success without him. Lesson: Accepting the responsibility for your company's success in your absence is the second step in succession planning. Succession planning begins with doing the hard work of making a plan for your successor's success. As the Sr. leader in your business, this is your responsibility. If not you, who? Having a plan for the company's success in their absence should be a significant part of every senior leader's job description. Such leaders who actively lead the charge in raising up active pools of qualified leaders increase business performance in the present and ensure impact in the future. When does this happen? When should you start? An old proverb describes it best: The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now! There is no success without a successor. Accept the reality of your inevitable departure. Embrace the responsibility for your organization's success in your absence. Begin the planning! Harry T. Jones P.S. Would you help me write about succession planning? Connect with me and let me know your thoughts, struggles, and successes. I want to answer your questions and fan your fire into a flame. Email me at or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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