What is the difference between a replacement strategy and a succession process?

Replacement strategies begin with the notice of imminent change and seek to pursue a new leader based on primarily outside referrals. Momentum is suspended during this search and adoption period.

Succession processes begin years prior to anticipated change, allowing the current leader to foster close relationships with potential future leaders and complete a DNA transfer over time. Momentum is maintained and often increased.

Are all senior leadership transitions ‘succession worthy’? 

No. The average senior leader in America remains in his or her position 8 years. In addition, the churches who are the victims (or causes) of these short term pastorates do not often desire to sustain the leadership influence of one leader among a series of others. The best foundation on which to build a succession is composed of long term pastorates, financial flexibility, and a healthy church structure.

Who is responsible for leading a succession plan?

Although outside coaches and consultants, like myself, are uniquely qualified to aid the organization and outgoing leader through the process, the senior leader is the primary and ongoing driver and champion of any succession process.

How do we get started?

Organizations vary with regard to their polity and authority structures. Often, the current leader will communicate with a succession specialist and schedule a two way call. If this initial call elicits the desire for a broader information download, an exploration weekend should be placed on the calendar. This event is a mixture of private meetings, a three hour compressed presentation of the Succession Journey Seminar for select leaders, and perhaps attendance in a weekend service. A next steps process will be crafted between the senior leader and myself, leading to a task list and timeline development,

What is the value of a coach/consultant?

Coaching within the context of business and leadership development is not about training and skill building but more of a ‘thought partnership’ between two peers. The expertise of a coach in the relationship rests in mastery of the processes of inquiry and thought provocation. The expertise of the person being coached is on the topics they face, both challenges and opportunities. A coach draws out new lines of thought that result in concrete plans of action.

The value of working with me is that I bring 22 years of senior leadership, 13 years as a staff leader, 10 years of multiple organizational oversight, and 6 years as a non-profit President to each engagement. Those experiences form the backdrop for specific lines of inquiry that others who have served only in staff positions or in para church organizations might not enjoy. In addition, I bring to bear the weight of a professional capstone project on Leadership Succession which provides the basis for the consultant’s hat worn at the beginning of each journey.

How long do most succession processes last?

This answer varies according to the needs of the current senior leader, the presence and availability of a successor, and the preparation of the organization to receive, process, and eventually celebrate the transition. Many succession processes take two or three years to complete. Other situations take longer. A succession process rarely enjoys complete adoption by a broad spectrum of the constituents if not given enough time to grieve the outgoing leader and adjust their loyalties to a new, younger leader.

How much does it cost to hire a coach/consultant?

Obviously, the resources and needs of each organization vary greatly. The value of conferencing software and the proliferation of cell based technology has greatly enhanced the accessibility and reliability of communication. Therefore, aside from an initial weekend of meetings, training and observation, most support of the succession process is handled remotely. Costs will be based on the relative need for board meetings, staff meetings and individual coaching sessions with both the outgoing leader and incoming leader. Remember that a succession journey is about the future of the outgoing leader as much as it is the future of the new leader and the organization. There are many topics to explore and plans to set in motion for both leaders.

Succession Journey engagements are based on organizational size, structure and need. Regardless of size and complexity, however, each engagement is based on an annual agreement, paid monthly which includes coverage of travel, meals, and lodging for any on-site visits.

How big does an organization need to be to participate in a succession process?

The beauty of succession is that every size organization can enjoy the fruits of sustained momentum gained through this type of leadership transition if the components outlined earlier in this list of questions is in place.