Succession Planning: Does Your CEO Need a Coach?

By John Pearson

Note: This is the sixth of 11 blogs featuring practical wisdom from the new ECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning. Free to ECFA members, you can download the resource and video by clicking here.

Principle No. 6: Invest in Growing Your Leaders (Every Leader Needs a Coach)

Bill Conaty and Ram Charan preach this memorable one-liner in their powerful book, The Talent Masters: Why Smart Leaders Put People Before Numbers:

“Only one competency lasts.
It is the ability to create a steady,
self-renewing stream of leaders.”

These two business leaders list 12 “Leadership Pitfalls” in The Talent Masters, including “not developing your own succession plan.” Boards should memorize the list and be alert to staff members practicing this pitfall: “’Running for office’—which is totally transparent to everyone else.”

So on your journey towards succession plan readiness—how high is your board setting the bar on these two big ideas?
1) Grow your CEO.
2) Inspire your CEO to grow leaders.

I know. I know. The daily to-do list pushes succession preparation way down. Critical budget needs leave inadequate funds for leader development. Stop! Reflect! Pray! Consider this wisdom:       

“What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?
CEO: “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?”

Or this from Jack Welch, quoted by Jeff McManus in Growing Weeders Into Leaders: Leadership Lessons from the Ground Level: “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

Or this from Paul to Timothy: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” (2 Timothy 2:2, NIV)

Principle No. 6 includes four discussion ideas for inspiring your CEO to grow—so when succession happens, your next CEO will take the baton of a healthy, God-honoring organization.

Check it out here:

DOWNLOAD: ECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning – 11 Principles for Successful Successions: “Every CEO is an Interim CEO.” The toolbox includes
Read-and-Engage Viewing Guide (20 pages) – photocopy for board members
Facilitator Guide (10 pages)
• 4 short videos (4-5 minutes each)
• Additional resources and succession planning tools

BOARD DISCUSSION: Does your CEO need a coach? According to Soderquist Leadership, “92% of executives who received coaching said they would be willing to be coached again.”

MORE RESOURCES: Follow the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom. Click here.



This article was originally posted on the “Governance of Christ-Centered Organizations” blog, hosted by ECFA.
John Pearson, a board governance consultant and author, was ECFA’s governance blogger from 2011 to 2020.
© 2021, ECFA and John Pearson. All rights reserved.



This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.