Setting Your Successor Up for Success

Though I am not a big fan of either the University of Connecticut or the University of Kentucky basketball teams, I was struck this past Monday as I watched the championship game about the successful succession each of these schools seems to have when it comes to there basketball programs.  Kentucky is a traditional powerhouse that has won championships under many coaches, Adolph Rupp, Joe B. Hall, Rick Pitino, Tubby Smith and John Calipari. Connecticut does not have near the history, but with this years win they now have four title teams under two coaches, Jim Calhoun and Kevin Ollie.  The success of these two programs is in contrast with many coaching legends that have been followed closely by a successor who just couldn't measure up.I am sure there are many reasons why Kentucky and Connecticut have succeeded in winning a championships under multiple coaches where other schools have struggled to do so.  One thing to consider this week is the thought of author Jim Collins: "Level 5 (great) leaders want to see the company even more successful in the next generation, comfortable with the idea that most people won't even know that the roots of that success trace back to their efforts." To have successful succession you need to set your successor up for success.  If you are interested in total control and having your organization totally dependent on your personality you may do great things - but the company will likely suffer at your departure.  When drawing up your written succession plan think through and include provisions for how your successor will be groomed for success.