Succession Planning, Succession Management, and Succession are all frequently used terms.  However, to truly understand what Succession Planning is, let’s start with some popular definitions?


Succession Planning Definitions

Succession planning is a process for identifying and developing new leaders who can replace old leaders when they leave, retire or die. Succession planning increases the availability of experienced and capable employees that are prepared to assume these roles as they become available. 



You have an effective Succession Planning effort if:

  • You can fill open positions without delay
  • You can fill open positions without going outside the organization
  • You can fill the positions with confidence
  • Your choices prove to be quite successful
  • Talented executives don’t quit very often

The Succession Planning Handbook for The Chief Executive – Mahler and Drotter


Succession Planning is described as having the right people in the right place at the right time.   More specifically, succession planning is the ongoing process of identifying future leaders in an organization and developing them so they’re ready to move into leadership roles.

Succession Planning Basics – Gabour Atwood


Succession Planning is a means of identifying critical management positions, starting at the levels of project manager and supervisor and extending up to the highest position of the organization.  Succession planning also describes management positions to provide maximum flexibility in lateral management moves and to ensure that as individuals achieve greater seniority, their management skills will broaden and become more generalized in relation to total organizational objectives rather than to purely departmental objectives.

Guaranteeing Management’s Future Through Succession Planning, Journal of Information Systems Management, Carter   


Succession Planning is a dynamic process of aligning employee aspirations and talents with the constantly evolving needs of the organization and of providing employees with the resources and support they need to grow into new roles.  The key points here are:

  • Dynamic: the process evolves constantly with changes in the internal and external environment of the organization and the aspirations and circumstances of the employees.
  • Resources and support: this is an enabling process, not one that seeks to exert control

The Talent Wave: Why Succession Planning Fails and What to do About It – Clutterbuck


The definitions above are a great start to understanding what Succession Planning is.  However, to get a deeper understanding of What Succession Planning Is and how to implement a Succession Plan, check out our free Simple Succession Planning Video or our Succession Planning Launch Series.