Succession Planning

Succession is Easier Said Than Done

“Succession planning is a critical task for any effective chief executive. You owe it to yourself, and more important, to the people in your (company) to do it right.” That brief quote from David Novak, CEO of YUM! Brands (KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, etc.) has been widely accepted by corporate boards across America.

However, churches have not been as open to the recognition of the rather severe implications of not approaching succession as the very intensive process that it is. In fact, my research shows that most churches feel like they’ve done a good job when they send off their pastor with appropriate appreciation and then begin to look for a new pastor with little or no involvement of the congregation.

The facts reveal that 75-80% of all “church successions” fail because the people have not been adequately prepared or involved in the process of helping to make this critical leadership decision.

One of our primary objectives in establishing the Passavant Leadership Group was to help churches discover a process whereby they might engage their congregation, access appropriate resources, find the right fit for their needs and appropriately integrate the incoming pastor into the church’s mission and vision….


Leadership Succession

Leadership Lift-Off

Though I don’t travel as frequently these days as I used to, I do find myself on enough flights to recognize that the laws of physics never change. The pilot of the plane knows exactly what speed he must attain before he reaches “rotation” (where he can pull back on the yoke and lift the plane off the ground). That speed is normally about 140 mph.

Now what I’ve learned is, the lighter the airplane—the less packed it is, the fewer number of passengers, etc.—the more quickly the airplane is able to lift-off. (Obviously, that is why commuter planes can take off and land on a much shorter runway.) On the other hand, if it’s a large airplane or if it’s loaded with passengers and luggage, it can take an extra mile of runway space to reach “rotation” speed.

The same is true when it comes to changes in leadership. Smaller changes may take place in a shorter period of time because the communication effort and amount of administrative and/or organizational needs are not too extensive.

In contrast, major changes such as leadership succession take a very long time to execute effectively. The reason is that these decisions affect everyone who is on the “plane” and have a great deal of “weight” attached to them….