Building a Strong Succession Plan

 Is your next generation of leaders ready?



What do you do when your top leaders are about to retire and you don’t have confidence in your succession plan? HEG helped a highly profitable, publicly-traded company solve the dilemma and grow stronger at the same time.

The organization was led by a handful of top executives who were likely to retire within the next ten years. The company had not developed the next wave of leadership and faced a serious obstacle to sustaining its culture and performance. Without an excellent succession plan, the company faced a dire leadership gap in the very near future.


The first question was: what was really happening in the current state, including the current succession plan? Our proprietary Ideal State Action Planning (ISAP) process allowed them to clarify an ideal state towards which their succession plan would lead.

This process identified two major challenges. First, the organization was focused on driving profitable lines of business but not developing people.

At the same time, the current succession plan was not quantifiable. There were no measurements or standards in place, and the board wanted a more objective, quantified plan.

Using the insights from the ISAP and expert interview techniques, we set to work with the executive team to create measurable standards and a competency plan for their company, that encompassed all the key roles facing succession. To succeed, we needed to both design an extensive plan of attack and also gain a buy-in leadership body who historically placed little value on developing people.


To do that, we identified 70 potential successors for nearly 20 executive positions. We conducted detailed, online 360-degree competency assessments. In this 360 assessment, candidates assessed themselves and were assessed by their managers, peers, and direct reports. This valuable data contributed to a complete picture of each candidate, their competencies, their skills, strengths, and emerging leadership potential.

Each candidate received an hour-long feedback session where they reviewed the results of their feedback and an “emergent lifestyle assessment” (based on Adlerian psychology) which helped them identify the core limiting beliefs that stood in the way of their success.

HEG provided specific developmental suggestions for the potential successor’s next steps. We created individual development plans to help them accelerate their professional development. Each candidate selected one or two competencies to focus on and develop where improvement would strengthen their performance, their skills, and their contribution to the company. They were provided with a competency development guide, which included an analysis of each competency to develop, barriers to change, and a step-by-step process for competency improvement.

12 Identified Leadership Competencies

  • Building teamwork
  • Coaching and developing others
  • Effectively communicating
  • Excellent customer focus
  • Executive presence
  • Technical expertise
  • Inspiring and motivating
  • Integrity and character
  • Proactive decision-making
  • Strategic thinking
  • Managing change
  • Results orientation


Using these data and insights, the top leaders of the organization discussed each candidate and arrived at a specific list of successors for 20 executive positions.

The board, along with the executives found the leadership development program so successful they chose to implement it for all high-potential employees. The leadership development program included leadership sessions with the top executives as well as custom-tailored leadership training. The culture grew stronger as these employees learned more about their integral role in the company. This powerful experience strengthened the corporate culture, achieved the organization’s succession planning goals, and established best practices as a foundation for future employee development throughout the organization.


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