Monday, February 9, 2009

Succession: Are You Ready?

I just finished reading an advance copy of Marshall Goldsmith’s new book, Succession, Are You Ready? The release date is February 10, 2009.

I don’t often do book reviews, unless it’s something I’ve picked up on my own and really liked. In this case, after hearing about it, I wrote Marshall and asked for an advance copy to review. His last book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, has turned into one of my all time favorite leadership books, and the one I probably recommend the most to leaders I’m coaching.

I like Marshall’s writing style – he’s not trying to impress anyone, he makes me laugh, and most importantly, he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to the behavioral side of leadership development. That real world experience comes from the coaching work he’s done with hundreds of executives. He's simply the best in the business.

I wasn’t disappointed with his latest (although somewhat surprised at the size – it’s more of a pocket sized book). Marshall offers a unique take on the topic of succession planning. Most of what I’ve read, and most of what I write about in this blog deals with the “technical” part of succession planning and leadership development: the what’s, why’s and the how’s.

This book is more of a “memo” to CEOs, addressing the emotional and human side of succession planning from their perspective. It’s a personal guide on how to slow down, let go, move on, and how to choose and prepare your replacement(s) – to “pass the baton”.

Note: While many readers will find it hard to relate to the loss of not having a access to the corporate jet, it’s interesting to know that letting go of that perk is the one thing that CEOs miss the most. That just may stop the rush for government bailout money. :)

If you’re in the business of talent management, then this book is a must for you. Talent management is more than filling out forms or moving chess pieces around. We’re working with human beings. And yes, even rich and powerful people have emotions, egos, fears, and insecurities. Understanding these issues and knowing how to help an executive prepare for the transition can save your company millions of dollars.

However, that’s not the primary audience for this book. While Marshall originally imagined this book being read by CEOs of major corporations, he realized after he wrote it that much of the content could apply to any leader going through the transition process. Anyone in a position of power and influence, whose identity is tightly connected to the position will relate. So if you’re a small business owner, department manager, athlete, or any leader that’s beginning to think about the next phase of your life, let this book be your roapmap.
Oh, and there are two more audiences that will want you to read this book: your family, and the leader who will take the reins from you.


Anonymous said...

With everything going on in the business world at this time, I think Marshall's book will help us understand some of what happens behind the scenes.

Anonymous said...

When it comes to Succession Planning I currently found some useful advice in an article from the Economic Expert, Med Yones addressing the major subject areas like Leadership and Performance, Strategic Alignment, etc. The information in the article is helpful and easily understandable. Further Details are to be found at

Dan McCarthy said...

Anon #1

and #2:
Thanks for the resource link