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October 2022

Welcome Back,

Without effective succession planning tomorrow will, at best, be a replay of today. The evidence is that few organizations have a highly effective succession process. Below are 10 succession imperatives. But first, please see our Featured Candidates and Positions.


Featured Positions for Job Seekers

Position 1: Vice President, Transportation

Our client is a multi-billion dollar technology and engineering company and we are looking for someone to lead the Americas Transportation business. The focus of this role will be to grow this business from its current state to be a $200 million business through evaluating current capabilities, investing in more capabilities, m/a work, and leading a commercial team to secure new development projects with OEM’s in the auto and aviation industries. The position will ideally be located in Detroit and focus on ADAS, Connected Vehicle, and Electrification projects. Please apply only if you have experience in the automotive industry specifically with the aforementioned technology and applications. For more information on this position, please call 313-887-8300 ex. 102 or email

Position 2: Vice President of Quality, Americas

Our client is a multi-billion dollar global automotive and industrial manufacturer and they are seeking someone to lead their quality operations - covering customer quality and problem solving science - for the Americas. With roughly 20 direct reports, this person will be responsible for further developing quality operation strategies, implementing new quality technologies, ensuring compliance with customer quality standards, educating workforce on problem solving programs, resolving product quality issues, reducing quality costs, maintaining quality certifications, and more. The successful candidate will demonstrate a passion for results and have experience building great teams and fostering collaboration. For more information on this position, please call 313-887-8300 ex. 102 or email


10 Succession Imperatives

Insights from "It's Time To Rethink Succession" by John O. Burdett, Orxestra® Inc., © 2021

Without effective succession planning tomorrow will, at best, be a replay of today. The evidence is that few organizations have a highly effective succession process. Here are 10 succession imperatives.

1. Clear direction from the Board

The ultimate accountability for succession lies with the HR Committee of the Board, but it is no less a fiduciary responsibility for the CEO and the top team. Indeed, anyone privileged enough to hold down a leadership role has an ongoing responsibility to develop a successor.

The need? A far more rigorous approach to Board selection. A periodic assessment of Board "fitness for purpose". A regular review of governance provisions. Appointing adjunct Board members with specialised experience and know-how - for example, organization culture, technology, the succession process.

2. A Meaningful Process

A flawed process has one defining characteristic - it's not going to take you where you need to be. Conversely, a meaningful process displays all the attributes of a good map. It allows you to identify where the beginning of the journey is, where you need to get to and the key steps along the way.

The need? A rigorous and transparent succession process that allows the Board to understand the thinking and methodology behind "the names on the charts". A succession process that delivers a distinct and sustainable competitive advantage.

3. 'Succession' not 'Replacement'

'Succession' and 'replacement' planning build on very different assumptions. Replacement is essentially tactical - a contingency plan to put into effect should a mission-critical role unexpectedly become open. Succession is strategic - it's about tomorrow's leadership.

The need? Recognise the inherent value of both replacement and succession but don't confuse the two. Leaving a mission-critical role unfilled for an extended period of time can be horrendously expensive. It may even put the very future of the business at risk.

4. A Clear Focus

The shorthand for focus is "less is more". This is especially the case when it comes to succession. The challenge? To identify mission-critical roles.

The need? Restrict the work on succession at the top of the organization to mission-critical roles - the roles that really matter; the roles that, if filled poorly, can sink the ship.

5. 'High potential' vs 'high performance'

Like riding a rocking horse, not everyone who 'rocks' is going places. It's a mistake to assume that outstanding performance translates into high potential.

The need? Define the specific competencies that describe future success in both the mission-critical role and the generic competencies that capture what it means to be 'high potential'. Selection isn't an exercise in abstract thinking. Make both succession decisions and identifying high potential candidates evidence based.

6. Clearly defined leadership competencies

A leadership competency describes future success in the role. It also captures the behaviours that separate an outstanding performer from one who is merely middle of the road. Three common pitfalls: falling back on generic terms; a myopic focus; relying too heavily on the manager in the role to capture the characteristic of future success.

The need? A comprehensive, up-to-date library of future-looking, thought-leadership-based, context-oriented, role-specific leadership competencies that embrace leadership balance.

7. A clear understanding of future culture

Your culture is your brand. Succession based on wishful thinking is to place a blind bet on the future without any understanding of what you are actually betting on and without appreciating the damage you are doing to the brand.

The need? Responsibility for culture lies directly with the top team. What you don't measure, you can't manage. It is essential to (really) know: 1) where your organization culture is today, and 2) where your culture needs to be to compete successfully in the future.

8. Mastery in the art of coaching

You can't grow the organization unless you grow the people in the organization. At the heart of 'growing' people lies coaching. Coaching isn't a 'sometime skill'. It's a systemic way to think about what it means to be a leader.

The need? As the business environment evolves, new knowledge, skills and capability are demanded. Without coaching, succession is an engine of future performance that is not firing on all cylinders. Those at the top must strive to become masterful in the art of coaching.

9. Understanding what it means to be a team

It is little short of managerial incompetence to enter into the succession conversation without the key decision-makers stepping back to assess the future nature, needs and norms that shape the behaviour of the team(s) involved. And it matters … because tomorrow's organization will be a team of teams.

The need? Factoring in the makeup and working approach of tomorrow's team(s) is a business imperative. As is uncovering meaningful ways to assess the team.

10. A comprehensive induction process

Derailment, no matter what form it takes, destroys value. If they don't land, they won't stay. It's not just a matter of fulfilling all of the requirements of the new role. The challenge is to do so as quickly as possible.

The need? A comprehensive executive induction process supported by both an internal mentor and an external coach. Assessment tools, access to supportive materials and the full support of both the hiring manager and HR are clearly essential. We have also found that a well designed and easy to access workbook is invaluable.


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