Succession, replacement, transition by any other name remains one of the most demanding processes for any board evaluating an incoming CEO. Just about every company including the most successful corporations are challenged when it comes to taking action for this position, because it requires much more than just leadership skills. It requires an inborn insight of company’s vision and strategy of the past and strategic management of the present and development for the future. For most organizations, like all businesses the failure comes from lack of planning in developing an unwavering list of assessments. The development of the plan should be in place years before there’s a need for it, because it’s a known fact, everyone is human and at any given time a successor may be needed on the spot.

Typically, CEO successions turn internal for similar or emerging talent and to the external marketplace, where the company is speculating or fairly new in the market and looking for a quick entrance to the business. The first option may provide the quickest solution in a moment’s notice, but the necessary competencies for a seamless transition may be missing. The same applies to the external choices; unknown certainties in new territories can slow the company’s forward movement. In both cases, the risks can be troublesome not just to the company, but to its employees, investors and shareholders, business partners, and customers.

Honestly, it comes down to two elements, which are the responsibility of the board. The first is sharing the plan and agreeing on the assessment requirements to sustain the company’s stability and finalize a successful CEO selection. The second is the board’s full support, aligning the outgoing with the incoming CEO and senior management to the company’s strategic directives. These are critical to keeping the company sturdy for continuing its momentum as the incoming CEO moves into place.

Finally, it’s important to have a full view of the company as it is now, using an internal assessment of key management positions throughout the organization. The results can provide some amazing information, and more important, it becomes a valuable tool for developing the CEO’s assessment requirements. The purpose of the assessment is to disclose the existing attributes within the existing leadership levels and the missing elements needed to operate an advancing business, while incorporating the facts into the company’s organization starting at the top.