The AMA Handbook of Leadership

By Marshall Goldsmith; John Baldoni et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5

Passing the Baton: Developing Your Successor

Marshall Goldsmith

At the end of a long and successful career, preparing your successor and yourself for the passing of the baton can be a leader's greatest challenge. Every leader faces this challenge eventually. Some leaders handle it well; many do not. However, if you handle it the right way while you are still at the organization, it can mean that your successor enters to applause while you exit gracefully.

Developing successors is often a task that busy leaders put off to “take care of later”—that is, until it is actually their point of departure and there is no more time to prepare! Rather than be surprised when it is time to leave, how can leaders prepare for transition? What are the personal and behavioral elements of transition—in other words, what is the human side of transition? And how can they leave their positions with class and dignity?


PREPARING FOR THE INEVITABLE

The handoff is imminent. Sooner or later, you will have to pass the baton of leadership to another leader who will take your place. It is up to you, the leader, how successful the handoff will be. As in a relay race, there are two important steps. The first is that you will have to slow down so that you and your successor do not drop the baton during the pass; the second is that you will have to coach your successor up to speed so as to carry the baton to the finish line.

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