Organizational charts do not always equate to succession planning

Too often, organizations (and people) think of their organizational charts as the logical succession plan for when people leave.

A CEO retires and the COO is next in line to take their place.

A head coach leaves and the top assistant steps right into the top spot.

A sales manager position opens up and the top salesperson is promoted to this position.

The problem with this kind of thinking is that the skill set needed for one position does not automatically qualify someone for a different position.

When the CEO retires the assumption is since the COO has been carrying out the day to day operations, he/she would be the most capable person for the CEO position. The problem is, the CEO probably is doing much more “visionary” planning while the COO has been doing the “right now” work.

The assistant coach might have great rapport with the team because while the assistant has input in a lot of things, everyone knows the final decision ultimately is with the head coach. It’s easy to make tough suggestions. It’s much harder to make tough decisions.

The great salesperson might an innate ability to read the customer but that doesn’t mean he knows how to hire others with this same trait nor does it mean he knows how to train others to have this same ability.

This is quite different than the Peter Principle in that I’m not referring to people who are only competent at what they do. Someone might be a GREAT COO but that still doesn’t mean they will be even a good CEO.

One reason organizations like to promote from within the organization chart is the fear if they don’t do so, they might lose the people who aren’t promoted. The thing they don’t realize is, if they promote someone who isn’t ready for the position, they will eventually lose that person and possibly much more.

Top leaders will groom their “underlings” so they are ready to move up the chart but it’s important not to move people up simply because it’s the easy way to do things.

Have a great day!

PS. If you didn’t see it yesterday please check out the book specials I’m offering at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *