Leadership Succession

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A Better Understanding of Leadership Succession
Glenn Reph
Doctoral Program in Leadership Studies
Gonzaga University
DPLS 701 Organization Theory
Professor: Dr. Caroline Fu
April 4, 2013

An Understanding of Leadership Succession
The big question asked by Waldman, et al (2001), “Does Leadership Matter?” may seriously come into play when top executive management members attrit. According to Cashman (2001), loosing top executive talent is very expensive and there is a brain drain coming due to the retirement of quality leadership. To exasperate the matter, now that the 2009 recession is ending and a recovery is underway, a number of executive leaders are considering the options to reposition themselves in the best jobs according to The Edge Report (2009).  There will be big opportunities out there for quality leadership, and in the long run, it will be a seller’s market for those executive leaders with the most valuable skills as a new growth era dawns moving into the next decade.   According to The Herman Trend Alert (2009), demographics will also play an important role in leadership succession picture going forward.  Last year, in 2012, the oldest of the 77 million Baby Boomers reached their 65th birthdays.  With The Herman Trend Alert (2009) agreeing with Cashman (2001), this means that many firms will experience a major management and leadership “brain drain” that must be replenished; helping augment or partially answer the bigger question about leadership mattering.  Notably, firms are planning to bring in two-thirds of their new full-time employees in professional and managerial leadership roles. This factor should contribute to an increased volume of leadership succession (U.S. Hiring Forecast, 2009), therefore, better understanding of the issues surrounding leadership succession is key to a successful compelling and profitable future. Furthermore, it appears we may see an actual lack of leadership coming on the horizon for any organization not preparing or planning for succession. While it is relatively easy to recruit entry-level staff, finding and attracting new leadership has always been challenging even during a recession, and as the economy heats up we can see even more challenges.

This area of leadership succession is not a brand new topic. Over the past few decades, researchers have studied the impact, issues, variables, and antecedents of leadership succession and attrition. Kesner and Sebora (1994) published an extensive review of succession literature, summarizing the rapid growth of the field and charting a road map for future succession scholars. The importance of understanding this field has are reaching economic, political and social consequences. More has to be learned about succession, by way of antecedents, factors, processes, outcomes, and methodology. Research questions need to go deeper and become finer grained in this apparent fragmentation of the field, which prompted earlier researchers to label it a “diffused and often chaotic research stream” (Kesner & Sebora, 1994). Leadership succession, being critical to an organization’s future needs further qualitative and quantitative research to forward the best practices and jettison the worst.

The purpose of my study is to synthesize, track progress and follow up on the current succession research findings since Kesner & Sebora (1994) and Giambatista, Rowe & Riaz (2005). What are the emerging trends and improved or newly accepted practices or expectations? How has succession practices, planning and modeling advanced in their acceptance, understanding, and usage? Are boards using and understanding the findings of successful succession practices? Are organizations adapting well to new leadership succession trends by growing in post- succession improved performance? What parts of the succession process cause executive leaders to flourish?

In order to benchmark and calculate these changes I would...
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