More boards are taking a long-term view of succession planning, especially as we’re seeing a growing trend of internal candidates wanting to be on a CEO development path. Succession planning is about ensuring the right people are ready at the right time in the right places to effectively lead and manage the organization. It isn’t limited to CEOs, either. Strategic thinking and conversations around the roles of the entire C-suite, board of directors and development plans for your mid-level leaders are also important components. And the time to focus on them is now.

1. Start the Process Earlier

Often, succession planning mirrors board governance. With some waiting for the current CEO to announce an official retirement date before evaluating search firms and moving forward, more strategic-minded boards begin the process years in advance.

Currently, half of our CEO succession projects involve assessing the CEO readiness of potential internal CEO candidates. These internal candidates tend to have long tenures, so the sooner you begin focusing on strategic planning and development, the better. Your initial conversations regarding succession and roles should happen five years or more in advance.

2. Look Internally First

There are strategic and cultural advantages to developing internal candidates. Not only do they already know the organization, but they also have the opportunity to work side-by-side with the current CEO for a smoother transition.

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