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Succession Planning and Executive Transition: A Resource Bibliography

A Practical Guide to CEO Succession Planning by Russell Reynolds & Associates


The transition from one CEO to another is a critical moment in a company’s history. A smooth transition is essential to maintain the confidence of investors, business partners, customer and employees, and provides the incoming CEO with a solid platform from which to move the company forward. A properly designed and executed succession plan is at the center of any successful transition. CEO vacancies can be planned or unplanned; in either scenario, by the time a succession plan is needed it is far too late to start building one. Because of this, it is the responsibility of the board to make succession planning a priority, even in the face of more immediate and tangible issues. “A practical guide to CEO succession planning” sets forth the specific elements and timeline of a successful CEO succession plan, as well as the steps necessary to ensure a smooth transition.  (Note: there are a number of other very good monographs available here at the website)

The Director’s Guide to CEO Succession by The National Association of Corporate Directors


The NACD Director’s Guide to CEO Succession includes the following articles on: Nothing Succeeds Like Succession, The Ins and Outs of Successful CEO Transitions, Expect the Unexpected Before the Crisis Calls, Overcoming Resistance to Succession, and Executive Compensation Programs Can Help or Hurt CEO Succession.

Executive Transition Initiative Succession Planning Toolkit


The Toolkit was developed by the Executive Transition Institute (ETI) directed by Mindy Lubar, CEO of Price of LeadingTransitions. The Toolkit consists of the following resources: #1 Overview of Succession Planning; #2 Departure Defined Transition Toolkit; #3 Emergency Succession Planning Toolkit;  #4 Strategic Leadership Development Toolkit

Ten Key Dimensions of Effective CEO Succession by The Ivey Business Journal


In a joint RHR International/Chief Executive magazine study of 236 corporate directors, 95 percent of respondents acknowledged that CEO succession is a critical business continuity issue. Nevertheless, more than half (53 percent) rated themselves as “ineffective” in executing their responsibilities in the CEO succession process. When properly planned and thoughtfully executed, CEO succession offers a company far more than just the transitioning of its top leader. It enables organizations to envision new opportunities for growth, and realign and strengthen processes and systems throughout the enterprise. This article offers insights on how to manage the succession process to achieve the best possible outcomes and describes ten important dimensions of effective CEO succession. They are based on RHR’s years of business experience, a deep understanding of human and organizational behavior and motivation, the insight of our clients and our ongoing program of research.

Inside CEO Succession: The Essential Guide to Leadership Succession by Thomas J. Saporito and Paul Winum


From the publisher: As the demands from stakeholders for consummate leadership and good governance from a company's board of directors, its CEO, and its executive team increase, how the process of CEO succession is carried out has become more critical than ever before. Yet, over the past several years, a growing number of CEOs have failed early in their terms, often with devastating consequences to their companies and stockholders. By far the most common problem is a lack of ownership of the CEO succession process. Inside CEO Succession provides businesses, leaders, and boards with the strategies they need to execute their responsibilities with a heightened level of professionalism and ensure the sustained success of the companies they serve. Written by Dr. Thomas J. Saporito, CEO of RHR International, and Dr. Paul Winum, Senior Partner of RHR International, the lessons of Inside CEO Succession are rooted in RHR's long-standing history of bringing expert knowledge, experience, advice, and counsel to the issues related to CEO succession.

Annie E. Casey Foundation Executive Transitions Monograph Series

The Executive Transitions Monograph Series is a set of publications on succession planning  and executive transition management, funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund. The series is a joint effort of TransitionGuides and CompassPoint Nonprofit Services.


bullet Capturing the Power of Leadership Change: Using Executive Transition Management to Strengthen Organizational Capacity. This report highlights the challenges associated with executive transitions and describes the model of executive management transition that has been used in the last decade.  It also details opportunities to further develop and implement strategies to better cope with executive management transitions.


bullet Interim Executive Directors: The Power in the Middle. This monograph describes the benefits and basics of using an interim executive director in a leadership transition. Interim executive directors are highly skilled managers who temporarily take the helm of an organization (four to eight months on average), help the board and staff address important systems and capacity issues, and lay the groundwork for the permanent leader’s success. The monograph also highlights some considerations that organizations should take into account when deciding whether or not to use an interim executive director.


bullet Founder Transitions: Creating Good Endings and New Beginnings: A Guide for Executive Directors and Boards. This guide examines the unique challenges presented by transitions involving founders or long-term executives. It provides clear advice for executives and their boards in confronting the complex issues these transitions present.


bullet Up Next: Generation Change and the Leadership of Nonprofit Organizations. Research indicates that leadership transitions from the Baby Boom generation to Generations X and Y will become more common within the nonprofit sector.  This report delivers a series of recommendations on how a variety of stakeholders can improve the hand-off from this generation of leaders to the next.


bullet Staying Engaged, Stepping Up: Succession Planning and Executive Transition Management for Nonprofit Boards of Directors. This publication focuses particularly on board leaders.  It provides a set of practical perspectives, hands-on tools, brief case studies, and useful resources to help board chairs, officers, and members take a proactive approach to preparing their organizations for a transition.  Includes A Practical Self-Assessment, Succession Planning on Your Own, and Transition Management on Your Own.


bullet Building Leaderful Organizations: Succession Planning for Nonprofits. The development of leadership skills throughout an organization is a key strategy for succession planning and strengthening capacity.  This publication presents emergency succession planning tools (an important “risk management” practice).  It offers executive directors concrete guidance for thinking about when and how to leave an organization. It also includes suggestions for boards in being proactive in assuring the sustainability of the organizations for which they are responsible.  Includes Preparing for the Inevitable: A Succession Readiness Checklist, Key Steps for Emergency Succession Planning, The Nuts and Bolts of Departure-Defined Succession Planning, and Am I Still a Leader This Agency Needs (questions for self-reflection). 


Nonprofit Executive Succession-Planning Toolkit by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City


This toolkit is a resource for nonprofit board of directors and executive leaders. It provides tools to effectively implement succession planning and overcome barriers. This resource is intended for organizations who have no plan in place as well as those that wish to update their current succession plans. The tools may be applied differently between organizations based on the board and executive’s expertise, talent, resources and strategic plans. The toolkit includes an outline of key planning roles, readiness questions, overview of the succession-planning process, and templates for succession plans and complementary documents that organizations may tailor to fit their specific needs. The toolkit contains numerous links that easily direct users to related and pertinent templates and sections. Of special value are sample timelines and templates for emergency succession plans and departure defined succession plans.

Sample Succession Planning Draft Policy by the Washington County Economic Opportunity Council, Inc.


Washington County EOC established a Succession Planning Draft Policy based on a template developed by the Center for Nonprofit Advancement.  Provisions are included both for temporary unplanned absences (short-term and long-term) and for permanent changes in the executive director, program director positions, and administrative staff positions. The template also includes a Checklist for Acceptance of All Types of Emergency Succession Plans and a comprehensive Information and Contact Inventory.

Succession Planning with Your Board by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM)


The Society of Human Resource Management has compiled tools and resources for board succession planning including the 10-Step Succession Plan for Board Leaders, Succession Planning Questionnaire, Board Roster Template for Succession Planning, Succession Planning Competencies, and more. The existence of these resources is a reminder that succession planning needs to include plans to ensure effective leadership transition within the board of directors as well.

CEO Succession Planning by David Larcker, Professor, Stanford University Graduate School of Business and Director of the Rock Center for Corporate Governance


Ensuring a smooth succession is the most critical responsibility for the Board of Directors and the CEO. Best practice succession planning gives the Board, management team, employees and shareholders confidence in the long-term future of an organization by reducing succession risk. This presentation describes the core components of the operational succession planning model. The presentation also identifies some of the myths surrounding succession planning.

The Importance of Linking Leadership Succession, Strategy, and Governance by Thomas Gilmore


Many writings stress the importance of a board’s thinking about leadership succession as its most critical task Succession is often intertwined with the state of the board’s functioning and organizational strategy. Similarly, working on governance is often triggered by succession and linked to strategy in terms of new competencies that need to be on the board. It is rare that one of these three can be the sole focus without consideration of the other two areas. This article offers an overview of the challenges of sequencing these intertwined issues, and the imperative that they be thought of in a woven, recursive way across time rather than a simplistic, linear sequence.

Exits From the Top by Don Tebbe


The goal of Exits From the Top, a website created by Don Tebbe, is to highlight tools, ideas and inspiration for transitioning leaders to help you prepare your organization and yourself to thrive in life’s next chapter. Exits From the Top brings together three valuable streams of information: (1) the direct experience of leaders who have been through the transition process themselves – what they learned, what they think they did right and what they would change if they had the opportunity for a “do-over”;(2) the best advice from top advisers and thought leaders who have deep experience in topics relating to transitioning leaders; and, (3) the best information and research available from the academic literature on these topics. Of special note is a free downloadable guide Take Charge of Your Exit: The Nonprofit CEO’s How-to Guide for Developing an Exit Strategy.

Succession Planning for Nonprofit Leadership: Steps to Ensuring Your Organization’s Future by Terri Theisen, Theisen Consulting, LLC and the Healthcare Georgia Foundation


This resource provides a guide to developing and implementing succession plans, and outlines organizational processes to support those plans, that will help to assure that your organization has the leadership capacity to achieve your mission. The publication has two sections. The first section contains five steps for successful succession planning for the Board of Directors, and provides tools and information for a nonprofit organization to assure that it is doing all it can do to attract and retain the talent that it needs for effective governance and for assistance in the achievement of its mission. The second section of this publication provides five steps in succession planning for the chief executive position in the organization. Similar to the first section, tools and information have been provided to assist an organization in preparing for and making an orderly transition for the chief executive position.

Compiled by: Frank Martinelli, Center for Public Skills Training

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Email: frank@createthefuture.com
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Revised: June 20, 2016