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The Importance of Executive Assessment for Succession Planning: A Leadership Fable

March 20, 2012

Once upon a time, there was a perfect little CEO who led a Perfect Little Company along their way to making a tidy little profit in a most efficient way.  The perfect little CEO spent her days wowing the perfect little Board members and wooing the perfect little customers and stakeholders of the Perfect Little Company.  All the while, she was adored by her perfect little employees and worshipped by her perfect little leadership team who, quite regularly, praised her virtues as a leader and prowess as the visionary thinker of this Perfect Little Company.

And then one day while the perfect little CEO was taking a perfect little jog, she keeled over and died.  A perfect little shockwave went through the Perfect Little Company, for no one had quite thought to expect anything less than working happily ever after.  The perfect little Board beat their chests and gnashed their perfect little teeth and throughout the Perfect Little Company there was much wailing and lamenting.  At long last, the perfect little Chairman, in a desperate attempt to appear more perfect and less little, appointed the Company’s perfect little COO to ascend to the throne.  

It came to pass that the former COO was not quite suitable in this new role and made some not so little and not so perfect choices.  So it was that all bore witness to the decline of the Perfect Little Company.  And the stakeholders watched woefully as they all drifted steadily and surely toward mediocrity under the uncertain hand of their big imperfect new CEO.  

The moral of the story?  Use the tools that make every perfect little company great.  Assess your executives so you know what makes each one great in their role.  Make a detailed Succession Plan part of your Board’s strategic planning process.  And use Executive Assessment to inform and breathe life into that plan.  Last but not least, embrace the success of the present, but plan for contingencies created by the surprises that come from life’s little jogs… 

Interested in developing your executive program? Check out our whitepaper on executive development:

Using Nine-Boxing to Guide Organizational Succession Planning

Drew Brock, Ph.D.