A CEO’s Personality Can Undermine Succession Plannin

free essaySuccession planning entails the identification of new leaders who can replace the current ones after their retirement. Its main aim is to prevent a fight for leadership and to ensure an orderly succession. Harvard Business Review highlights how different CEO personalities as well as the other leaders of organization undermine the appropriate succession. There are four main succession scenarios. They include situations when leaders do not have any successors; when leaders pretend that they try to find a person who would replace them; when leaders designate a wrong successor; and when a group of leaders undermine the effectiveness of their successors (Peters-Hawkins, Reed, & Kingsberry, 2017). Successful management of any organization depends on succession planning, which is necessary for positive performance and for the identification of leadership roles.

Although all leaders have particular intentions regarding their positions when they retire, some of them might experience the lack of motives to make any plans. It is their personal features of character that have the decisive impact on the succession plans. The CEO’s personality predetermines the kind of a successor he/she would introduce to the company. The major reasons for these decisions lie in the kind of life that a leader wants to have after retirement. Thus, their succession plans are designed according to the desirable retirement lifestyles.

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Four scenarios divide CEO’s personalities into four categories, which correspond to the ways of succession. According to the first scenario, leaders do not have any successors or plans for succession. In this situation, leaders of the organization do not accept the reality of retirement and, therefore, do not plan to introduce a person that would replace him/her.

In the second scenario, leaders pretend that they try to find a person who would replace them. This category of leaders always shows willingness to introduce successors and they have all the evidence to support their claims. However, in reality, they do not have any plans for succession, and eventually, there will be no successors as they will provide ‘valid’ reasons for doing so (Dattner & Chamorro-Premuzic, 2016).

The third category includes those leaders who designate wrong successors in order to prove that they will always remain the best performers in the organization even when they retire. Finally, there is a group of leaders who prove the ineffectiveness of their successors. They provide several reasons to explain why expected replacements would not reach their performance level.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Four identified scenarios can be both beneficial and detrimental in different ways. The advantages and disadvantages are dependent on the nature of the organization as well as on the availability of a successor at the time of the current leader’s retirement. Structure of the organization, the level of leadership within it, the department of decision making, as well as the succession policies that a company presents are the other factors that might affect the way in which a certain scenario becomes either beneficial or disadvantageous for a company.

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One of the advantages of the scenario in which leaders of the organization have neither successors nor plans for succession is a strong legacy. Since they have a belief that they are the only ones who display the best managing skills, they would always try to prove their irreplaceability. In this case, the possibility of them leaving the best legacy in the company is quite high (Peters-Hawkins, Reed, & Kingsberry, 2017).

On the other hand, this scenario is disadvantageous since there are no opportunities for the other employees to take a position of a leader and to provide appropriate quality services that the company requires. As a result, an organization might have a successor who does not perform according to the necessary standards that would result in low-quality productivity.

The advantage of the second scenario when leaders pretend to designate successors is that the preparations, which they do pretentiously, can lead to the appearance of real successors who would replace current leaders when they retire. Despite the fact that they do it only to pretend that they have a succession plan, it can be useful for training the future leaders. The disadvantage of this scenario is the fact that it is rather time-consuming because the preparation is done only to cover the reality without the aim to train a skilled successor.

The scenario of designating a wrong successor is a dangerous situation. It results in a decline of the company’s productivity and, in the end, might lead to the collapse of the organization. It can be beneficial only due to the fact that leaders of this category are bold and ready to return to their companies in case they are needed again. Otherwise, it is a wrong succession criterion that should be avoided in order to ensure the development of the organization (Peters-Hawkins, Reed, & Kingsberry, 2017).

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Finally, the last succession scenario ensures that a leader will always deliver high-quality services to the company. However, leaders in this category would also always micromanage their organizations, and they will not provide successors with an opportunity to find their own ways of performing necessary functions in the company. It is also a form of discrimination within an organization, since the basis of leadership in this case is the underestimation of the other potential leaders.

Leadership in My Organization

I think that I belong to the category of leaders who pretend to designate a successor. I am a part of this group because I believe that even a pretentious preparation of a successor would be a better idea as compared to having no successor at all. Moreover, this option can entail interviewing of internal and external candidates that would enable them to evaluate their readiness for the position of a leader.

The CEO succession in my organization occurs through a series of interviews. The first phase is the announcement of the CEO vacancy in order to encourage the qualified personnel to apply for the position. The next step after receiving the application letters is the process of shortlisting candidates who are likely to possess the required qualifications. During the interview, the panel is responsible for questioning candidates and selecting a person who will be the most suitable for the position of a future leader. The weakness of this process is the fact that it is a one-step interview, so a candidate is selected after participating only in one interview. This process should be chanched because the selection process should involve various steps, aimed at evaluating available candidates till the most skilled one is selected.

How It Works

As a chief HRD officer in my company, I consider CEO succession to be a significant activity whereby all leaders are required to choose their successors from the current staff and to provide them with adequate training. Each manager would need to provide progress reports on how the process is developed as well as to describe what they expect from their replacement. Furthermore, they would need to highlight the challenges that they face during this process and to suggest solutions that might help their successors to sustain the same level of standards (Granger, 2013).


The first lesson I have learned is that most leaders do not have plans for succession. They want to stay in their leading positions all the time, even after reaching the retirement age. Second, the character of each leader determines the kind of a successor he/she selects. Leaders choose people to replace them according to the benefits, which they want to gain and the legacy, which they are intended to leave in the organizations after the retirement. Third, I have realized that most organizations do not have succession policies that provide appropriate criteria for the selection of successors. These companies need to design such policies in order to ensure that managers are skilled enough to take the position of leaders when needed (Elsaid & Ursel, 2012).

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This case clearly explains that succession in any organization is procedural. Different scenarios are determined by the kind of succession that is chosen by a particular leader of a company. These scenarios reflect the character of the CEO. It is advisable for the organization to have succession policies, because it helps to prevent leaders from basing their succession decisions on their personal benefits and preferences. Without these policies a company might be ruled by a successor who would not correspond to the required standards that eventually would lead to the deterioration of a business (Bills, Lisic, & Seidel, 2016).

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