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Seven Keys to
By Paul Rattray
Seven Keys to Successful Succession v. 1.0 By Paul Rattray Published by Sacrificial Succession 26 Spring Myrtle Avenue Nambour Queensland Australia http://www.sacrificialsuccession.com/
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Contents ................................................................................................... 3 Preface .................................................................................................. 5 Introduction ......................................................................................... 8 Successional Leadership ............................................................... 11 Selfish to sacrificial successions ................................................... 13 7Keys-1 ................................................................................................... 16 Overturn Orders ................................................................................ 16 First last, last first........................................................................... 17 Peace not Disorder ........................................................................ 18 Changing course ............................................................................ 20 Breaking down barriers ................................................................ 23 Conclusion ..................................................................................... 26 7Keys-2 ................................................................................................... 28 Ready Replacements ........................................................................ 28 Selfish to sacrificial orientations ................................................... 30 Ministry mediates mastery ........................................................... 32 Direct succession relationships .................................................... 35 Conclusion ..................................................................................... 38 7Keys-3 ................................................................................................... 41 Expose Egos ....................................................................................... 41 Successor characteristics ............................................................... 42 Heart before head .......................................................................... 44 Bred or built? ................................................................................. 45 Cultural character .......................................................................... 47 Assessing altruism ......................................................................... 48 Conclusion ..................................................................................... 49 7Keys-4 ................................................................................................... 53 Open Oversight ..................................................................................... 53 Transparent treatment .................................................................. 54 Outsider opinions .......................................................................... 55 Incumbents and instructors .......................................................... 57 Conclusion ..................................................................................... 60 7Keys-5 ................................................................................................... 63 Calm Conflict .................................................................................... 63 Desire for greatness ....................................................................... 65 Resolve conflict correctly .............................................................. 66 The ‘Judas’ principle ..................................................................... 68 Conclusion ..................................................................................... 70 7Keys-6 ................................................................................................... 73 Avoid Authoritarianism ....................................................................... 73 Authority aware ............................................................................ 74 Succession rules ............................................................................. 78 Succession outcomes ..................................................................... 81 Successor scenarios........................................................................ 83 Conclusion ..................................................................................... 85
7Keys-7 ................................................................................................... 88 Sacrifice Successionally ....................................................................... 88 Ministry of service ......................................................................... 90 Mediatory sacrifice ........................................................................ 92 Mastery of advocacy ..................................................................... 95 Sacrificial succession ..................................................................... 97 Conclusion ................................................................................... 102 Appendix ......................................................................................... 104 Endnotes .......................................................................................... 106
Preface Seven keys to successful succession are often
overlooked in leadership transitions. The unfortunate result is succession failure and crisis. Surprisingly, perhaps, the master key to successful transitions is sacrificial succession. Sacrificial Succession is the altruistic, mid-tenure handover of leadership mediated by incumbent for successor success. Sacrificial Succession includes pre- and post-succession preparation of altruistic successors. This book shows leaders how to be successful successors by sacrificing successionally. Unsuccessful leadership transitions start with incumbents failing to prepare altruistic successors then avoiding a sacrificial handover of leadership. This oversight causes leadership voids and succession crisis. Applying the Seven Keys (7Keys) of this book helps bring greater succession success because it puts the onus of a greater sacrifice on incumbent rather than successor. Most leadership transitions and successions are defined by the handover of managerial authority from predecessor to successor. While succession is usually associated with leadership transition, its importance to a successful leadership legacy is often overlooked. This disconnect between leadership and succession is evidenced by good leaders having poor successions. Today, this oversight allows more selfishly than sacrificially motivated successors to dominate. Due to these factors coupled with ageing leaderships, especially in the west, and younger generations of leaders less willing to take on corporate leadership, transition crisis is a serious leadership problem1. Despite the predominance of professional succession planning and management, leadership development and placement programs, there is limited outcome evidence to prove that these “best practices” are actually working2. The 7Keys to successful succession of this book explain why these approaches are ultimately unsuccessful. They also show how these unsuccessional
leadership transition trends can be reversed and reorientated towards more successful successions. The first of the 7Keys involves overturning orders by giving those normally coming last opportunities to be first. Key two is about intentionally readying replacements as successors rather than leaders. Key 3 is about exposing egos amongst potential successors to find those that are more sacrificially orientated. Key four involves being open to the oversight of other leaders when choosing successors. Keys five and six are about calming the inevitable successor conflicts that arise and avoiding the corporate and dynastic authoritarianism found in so many successions. Finally, key number seven, the Master Key, explains sacrificial succession: the altruistic hand over of leadership to successors mediated by incumbent, as a promising solution to transition crisis. Sacrificial succession requires incumbents to directly prepare altruistic replacements pre-succession, sacrificially handover leadership to these successors mid-tenure then stay on to act as successor advocates post-succession. Failing to use these 7Keys, and particularly the last key, in leadership transitions is what causes many good leaders to have poor successions. Using these seven keys is critical for successor and succession success. Examples of successful and unsuccessful successions are shared later. Despite the numerous—and excellent—succession planning techniques and technologies, professional managers and leadership development programs available, succession crises and leadership voids will continue to effect transitions until these seven keys are put into practice. In short, transition crises will continue to occur until more leaders start practicing sacrificial succession. Applying these 7Keys to successful succession will help end much transitional uncertainty. Succession crisis can be avoided by using the following 7Keys: 1) Overturn Orders 2) Ready Replacements 3) Expose Egos
4) Open Oversight 5) Calm Conflict 6) Avoid Authoritarianism 7) Sacrifice Successional These seven keys to successful succession are based on common-sense insights combined with age-old truths that are as relevant today as ever. They are supported by some of the latest research into altruism and leadership showing that sacrificial leaders can indeed make the most successful successors. Successful successors willingly serve and prepare their followers altruistically, sacrificially hand over their leadership early then stay on post succession to advocate for the next generation of successors. Each of these seminal truths is revealed through the following Seven Keys to Successful Succession.
Introduction In preparing his successors to replace him a
certain leader shared his private and public life with them. It gave his disciples the opportunity to see not only how he acted at work but also how he interacted with his family and friends, rivals and enemies in public and privately. He told them stories that challenged established norms and structures. Together, these potential successors were given projects that developed their ability to lead as successors. They learned by doing directly from their leader. He did strange things that challenged established orders of the day. This They were regularly taken leader gave those who normally aside by their leader over a come last opportunities to be first. more than three-year period He put the interests of others before and reminded of the manner, his own. In so doing he challenged timing and place of the and overturned existing orders. impending handover. Importantly, this leader modelled these keys to successful succession, personally and professionally. He directly prepared his successors for transition by predicting how, when and where he would sacrificially give up his leadership. These ready replacements were well prepared as successors because this outgoing leader already had an exit strategy in mind with a clear timeline for transition well before the time he was succeeded. Also, this leader readied his replacements as successors rather than subordinates. “I no longer call you staff because staff do not know what their masters are doing. Instead I call you my friends, because everything I have learned from my predecessors I have made known to you,” their leader said. These successional candidates, learned discipline—the base meaning of the word “disciple” by doing what their leader did. Because their leader was still in the prime of life, these potential successors felt he was planning to hand over leadership too early in his tenure. Nevertheless, this
leader knew that an altruistic—and early—mid-tenure handover of his leadership for the success of successors was one of the keys to successful successions. Having these doubts did not, however, stop these disciples from competing for the incumbent’s position. Wisely, their leader understood the need to expose egos so that the selfish to sacrificial motivations of potential successors could be revealed beforehand. When some of these potential successors humbly approached their leader to seek favours in the upcoming transition this key was applied masterfully. With his ability to expose egos this leader understood the selfish to sacrificial motivations of each successor. In this particular culture the pull of kinship was strong. Other cultures favour connections over clan, but these self-serving motivations are common and insidious to most transitions. In response to their approach the leader asked, “What is it that you want?” Their reply [often unspoken], as with most seeking favour in transitions, was to become the greatest by becoming successors. The leader went on to ask them, “But are you able to make the sacrifices that I am about to make for this succession to occur. Their self-confident reply, “We can!” The leader confirmed their self-serving willingness to sacrifice by saying, “You will indeed make similar sacrifices to me but the decision about my successors is open to oversight. This astute leader made sure that he was accountable to other stakeholders for the crucial decision about the choice of successor. He knew that being open to oversight counters bias and provides the balance that is so often absent in successions. When the other leadership contenders heard about this attempt to gain special favour they were understandably indignant. Gathering the aggrieved group together the leader dealt with the problem quickly and transparently. He understood the need to calm conflicts by dealing with issues of betrayal openly and honestly—and quickly!
Often such conflicts remain hidden and unresolved in transitions. Incumbents are reluctant to deal with these matters publically by involving the interested parties because they fear further conflict. Instead, this leader skilfully used the conflict situation to calm things down. In fact, this situation was used to teach an object lesson about avoiding authoritarianism. The leader knew it was the leadership contenders’ desire for greatness that was at the heart of the conflict. Therefore he went on to describe the authoritarian leadership norms of the day so evident in the behaviour of these succession candidates. Evidence of authoritarianism is “Just as I have served others rather than myself and give up found in most corporate and dynastic my leadership sacrificially as a transitions. Top leaders authorise a ransom for you, so too must succession and their intermediaries you do the same as my exercise this authority over their successors.” subordinates. Sometimes these selfserving leaders act like barons and at other times as benefactors, yet remain authoritarian nonetheless. Their preference is for strict rules and established authority. Rejecting this naturalistic approach to transitions, this sacrificial leader went on to explain a radical alternative. The truth of sacrificing successionally is at the heart of successful succession. Instead of being selfserving and seeking power, the leader said that they should be sacrificial. “Altruistically serving others rather than yourself is the true measure of greatness,” their leader said. Reminding his disciples about the first coming last, the leader went on to say that they too must be willing to come last and be the least. Then the leader got personal: “Just as I have served others rather than myself and give up my leadership sacrificially as a ransom for you, so too must you do the same as my successors.” Finally, this outgoing leader said, “Even though I am sacrificing my leadership early for your successional success, I am not leaving you. After handing over my
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leadership, I will stay on after the handover to advocate for you and help prepare the next generation of sacrificial successors”. Eventually these potential successors came to realise that even leaders who serve others faithfully are less successful without enacting a sacrificial succession. The latter (sacrifice) is the genuine outworking of the former (service) and without a sacrificial succession most transitions remain ineffective because sacrifice complements service to make both sides of the successional coin complete. Because these candidate successors had personally seen their leader sacrifice successionally, they Overturn orders, ready were well prepared as sacrificial replacements, expose egos, open successors. oversight, calm conflict, avoid Due to observing these seven authoritarianism and sacrifice successional would echo in the truths first-hand through their hearts and minds of these leader’s sacrificial transition, they successors throughout their lives. were impossible for these successors to forget. Overturn orders, ready replacements, expose egos, open oversight, calm conflict, avoid authoritarianism and sacrifice successionally would echo in the hearts and minds of these successors throughout their lives. This successional imprint would live on in the leaderships of their successors as long as they practiced these seven keys to successful succession.
The sacrificial succession defined in the previous section involves the altruistic handover of leadership by incumbent. This transfer of leadership is specifically for the benefit of successor. It involves incumbents directly preparing ready replacements during the pre-succession, sacrificing their leadership ambitions mid-tenure then staying on post-succession to advocate for the next generation of successors. Due to its obvious association with leadership and succession in particular, an uncritical reading of the seven steps to sacrificial succession may conclude that the
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7Keys are as much about leadership and management as they are about succession. To some extent this is true since good leadership and management should ultimately be about having an effective succession. For example, “Begin with the end in mind,” to quote Stephen Covey’s second of ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People’ means starting with a clear understanding of the planned destination3. Since the aims of succession planning and management, leadership succession and development are to have the right people in the right jobs at the right time, broadly speaking these goals fit with the 7Keys. There are, however, a number of important differences between sacrificial succession as defined in this book and leadership transition and management succession norms that need pointing out. First, succession must come before leadership in order of importance. This first truth of the 7Keys, which is that the ‘last must be first’ is not mere semantics. It is critically important as a starting point for sacrificial succession to initially occur. By overturning the order of leadership succession to succession leadership the intent is to make clear that for successful successions to eventuate this order must first be overturned. Second is that to be genuinely successional, the focus on managers being developed to fill leadership pipelines must be replaced by a much greater emphasis on a far wider pool of candidates. For example, potential successors should come from a variety of non-managerial fields. As Stephen Drotter of the Leadership Development Pipeline rightly says, the operating definition of leadership should be to make performance happen so that others become more effective4. Yet the focus on developing successors to be effective selfmanagers who eventually learn to manage others is limiting. Instead of developing leaders who can take over if and when needed, the seven keys are unequivocally about preparing successors as ready replacements in transitions where the timing and terms of
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the succession are clearly spelled out by incumbent and the sacrifice of leadership by incumbent is intentionally for the benefit of successors.
Selfish to sacrificial successions
To summarise the key differences between sacrificial succession the master key of this book, and other more self-interested forms of leadership succession, is to reiterate its focus. First is the emphasis on readying replacements as successors rather than developing leaders or managers to fill future leadership positions. Second is that that to be genuinely successional incumbents must sacrifice their leadership for the benefit of successors mid-tenure. As a direct outworking of these first two successional differences, the third main difference involves incumbent staying on as replaced leader to advocate for the next generation of successors. Successional leadership is about leaving a sacrificial succession legacy of ready replacements prepared as successors, leadership sacrificially handed over for the benefit of successors and advocacy for the next generation of successors by incumbent as its most important elements. Though strange and unnatural, sacrificial succession is logical and possible. While these three key phases of sacrificial succession are not commonly practiced in transitions, glimpses of successional leadership, a precursor to sacrificial succession, are occasionally observed. Two transitions worth mentioning, as examples, are those of Fannie Mae’s David Maxwell to Jim Johnson and F. W. de Klerk to Nelson Mandela. In the case of David O. Maxwell, he voluntarily relinquished his rights to a final retirement payment of $5.5 million in 1991 stipulated under his contract with Fannie Mae, a mortgage security provider5. He took this action to stop continued controversy over his retirement compensation. Also, he believing that it could harm his successor Jim Johnson and the millions of Americans Fannie Mae served. How different Maxwell’s sacrificial act turned out to be to the selfishness of his successors
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James (Jim) A. Johnson and Franklin (Frank) D. Raines6. Both were ousted due to financial impropriety yet requested and received huge retirement packages. In stark contrast, the amount that Maxwell surrendered contributed to housing for low-income families. Johnson and Raines on the other hand arguably contributed to Fannie Mae’s eventual collapse and global economic crisis. How different can these sacrificial and selfish succession legacies possibly be? Another example of a sacrificial succession is the relatively smooth political succession from Frederik Willem de Klerk to Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela in South Africa. Without both incumbent and successor willingly and intentionally making mutual sacrifices, conflict rather than consensus would have been almost guaranteed. Then the history of South Africa would have been like much of the rest of Africa—plagued by transition crisis and conflict. Having a close succession relationship, despite their strong political and personal differences, was a crucial factor in the successful succession from de Klerk to Mandela. Both were obviously motivated by mutual self-interest. Nevertheless, the greater good of the nation and the people were ultimately put first by both men. Their successional leaderships were defined by a willingness to mutually sacrifice7. For de Klerk it was sacrificing his future political leadership ambitions and with Mandela it was serving peaceful instead of radical political change. Both men left a virtually unparalleled successful succession legacy in Africa and jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. De Klerk continues his role in brokering peaceful successions through the Global Leadership Foundation, which he founded. Nelson Mandela is honoured as an elder statesmen and peacemaker. A fitting quote from F. W. de Klerk about this tumultuous time in South Africa’s history and the key role his and Mandela’s successional leadership played in it is a fitting conclusion to this chapter and introduction to the ensuing seven keys.
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“Finally, leaders must accept that there is no end to change and must plan for their own departure. As soon as one has achieved one’s transformation objectives one must start the process all over again. In a world in which change is accelerating, fundamental and unpredictable there is no respite or time to rest on one’s laurels. One of the most difficult decisions for any leader is to accept that he, too, will one day be swept away by the unrelenting river of time. The wise leader will know when to leave and when to pass the baton to a new generation8.”
A successful succession is essential to effective leadership yet is so often overlooked as being an integral part of it. Succession is integral to leadership. So much so that in this study the order is overturned from leadership succession to read “succession leadership”. Many examples of this reorientation will be shared throughout the book. Probably the most important reorientation in thinking necessary to become more successful and successional is the first of the 7Keys. Overturning orders requires a willingness to change the way things are normally done so that other ways can be tried and applied. Overturning orders is the first Key that starts the sacrificial process.
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“If I want to give those who started last the same as you, don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you jealous because I am generous? So the last will be first and the first last” – The Business Owner
A story is told about a certain business owner
embarking on an unusual successor recruitment drive. At the beginning of the year the business owner agreed with a group of workers to pay them fair wages and a specified bonus following the completion of their 12month contract. After three months, more workers were needed, so the business owner went out and hired more workers promising to pay fair wages and a generous unspecified bonus. The workers gladly accepted. Following that, the business owner went out and hired more workers on the same fair payment basis three months later and again in the ninth month of that year. Then, in the 11th month, the business owner went out and recruited even more workers, again promising fair wages and bonuses. At the end of the year the business owner asked his manager to gather all the workers together to give them their bonuses beginning with those who started last. Surprisingly, especially for those who started first and last, everyone received the same generous bonus. Those who started first and had worked the longest and hardest complained to the business owner, “These workers who were hired last only worked one month, yet you made their bonuses equal to ours—and we worked for 12 months!” But the business owner answered them, “Friends, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree
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to these terms? Take your bonuses and go. If I want to give the workers who started last the same bonuses as you, don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you jealous because I am generous? So the last will be first and the first last.” This story highlights a number of important truths about human nature, especially in transitions and successions. For the purposes of this study, a transition is the context in which a succession, the handover of leadership from predecessor to successor, occurs. A transition includes a presuccession period, prior to the Apart from promoting a mutual handover of leadership, a interest in and care for one another, it sends a message to succession event, when those who normally come first leadership is handed over and a that the leadership is serious post-succession period, which about giving those coming last involves successor and equal opportunities. sometimes predecessors. In successions there is always an expectation that those who have worked longest and hardest should have the best positions and benefits based on their performance and tenure. By overturning orders and reversing norms that naturally apply the business owner was better able to identify the selfish rather than sacrificial motives of those who had started first due to their stronger sense of entitlement.
First last, last first
Understanding this first key of overturning orders by using it correctly opens the door to the other 7Keys. To genuinely overturn orders means giving successional opportunities to those that come last and who are lower in status because those who normally come first and are higher in status do not need to be given these same opportunities. Therefore, a willingness on a leader’s part to overturn orders is an obvious prerequisite. Applying this key means deliberately turning the tables in favour of those who normally come last. It is not about the practice
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of honouring those perceived to be inferior that can often be observed by senior leaders almost overdoing their praise of such ministers and ministry activities. Instead, overturning orders is about encouraging social and structural change through these activities. Apart from promoting a mutual interest in and care for one another, it sends a message to those who normally come first that the leadership is serious about giving those coming last equal opportunities. Practically speaking, overturning orders means choosing contenders from outside of the normal management streams to include those who are genuine outsiders rather than corporate insiders. Nurturing successors that are “inside-outsiders”, to borrow a phrase from Joseph L. Bowers of the Harvard Business School, means developing internal candidates who have an outside perspective9. Grooming internal successor candidates with an outsider orientation promises stronger leadership transitions. Despite its positive implications, the main limitation of this thinking is that managers continue to be considered the most appropriate leaders. It should be self-evident that this does not overturn established orders. In fact, such thinking may actually reinforce them. To quote the business owner, “So the last will be first and the first last”, is an outcome statement rather than an objective to be achieved. Therefore, overturning orders is a deliberate exercise in changing norms by making potential successors from unlikely fields and roles eligible for leadership. For example, it means making successors of people from service and technical streams as eligible as those from management fields.
Peace not Disorder
Overturning orders is not, however, about engineering disorder or chaos. Instead it is about changing the normal ways things are done and the established structures that support them. That is why the word “orders” is used to describe this key. Orders are
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the established ways things are done and their supporting structures. Most people are familiar with religious and social orders that have defined hierarchies and structures that are not easily overturned. For example, think of who is authorised to speak on behalf of a church or business. Usually it is pastors in churches and managers in business. Although its aim is to overturn established orders, the intent of this key is not to create chaos or disorder in the process. As such, successful successors are not to be authors or agents of instability, disturbance or confusion. Instead, peace between individuals and organisational harmony is expected from this process. This is why the act of putting those coming last first must be put into practice so that members of an organisation all alike learn to have an altruistic, mutual interest in and care for one another. This is a good working definition of altruism, an important word in this book. Unfortunately, most proposals for overturning orders are designed around engineering chaos or confusion, such as civil revolutions, social engineering or reverse discrimination, to achieve peace. This is a contradiction in terms because, in and of themselves, chaos and confusion cannot beget peace and harmony. Now those who are familiar with so-called “chaos or complexity theory”, which refers to inter-relationships between elements in a system, may take exception to this definition10. However the main point about complexity in systems such as leadership and succession is that what may initially appear to be chaotic can actually have an underlying order. Finding this underlying order in complexity can help provide unique solutions to apparently intractable problems such as succession crisis. Note that chaos theory does not imply everything chaotic necessarily has an underlying order. Thus the exception to the rule about chaotic events usually being detrimental is when apparently chaotic events occur that do not appear to make logical sense yet are strangely successful. One of these strange exceptions is the
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sacrifice of leadership by incumbent for successor. To enact this strange exception the sacrifice of incumbent for successor success must outweigh the self-sacrifice of successor in their efforts to gain leadership. While conventional wisdom and natural logic argues against leader sacrifice for subordinates in favour of subordinates sacrificing for leaders, this overturning of orders is actually proven to be the more successful. This strange truth is expanded upon through each key and becomes particularly obvious in key number seven, sacrificing successionally.
To apply the sort of strange logic that the business owner used to weed out those serving selfishly in favour of those more sacrificially inclined required a complete change of course. By promoting those who normally come last, first, in a peaceful manner, the business owner was enacting a “paradigm shift”, a complete reorientation in thinking and acting. For this total change to occur requires a complete shift in thinking and doing which, in turn, allows for a new course of action. Philosopher and historian Thomas S. Kuhn (1922 -1996), says this decision to reject one paradigm is always simultaneously the decision to accept another11. It is a complete reorientation from one course to another that rejects the former in favour of the latter. In other words, to overturn orders in successions means being willing to reject transitional norms that favour the first: powerful, extroverted, and privileged, to support the last: powerless, introverted and less privileged. With this paradigm shift in mind, it should be more obvious that without overturning orders it is impossible to change these unsuccessional norms. Therefore, a pertinent example of an established ‘order’ that needs overturning is the preference for extroverts in leadership. Extroverts are known to thrive on group activity and dominance. They tend to be leaders in organisations12. By overturning this order, introverts who are more stimulated by personal reflection
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and conscientiousness are given opportunities to come first. For instance, see Susan Cain’s “The power of introverts” video on http://www.ted.com/ for this alternative view. What this sort of paradigm shift suggests is that the orders needing overturning are both people and process orientated. A people orientated change requires overturning preferences for certain personalities, such as extroverts in favour of more introverts. Procedurally this would mean favouring candidates with a track record of serving and ministering to others over professionals who have ministered, mediated and mastered using more selfserving managerial or technical abilities. Therefore, process orientated changes need to support the different ways people are chosen and their performances assessed. For example, this could mean changing evaluations to be less extravert-centric to be more introvert- friendly. Also, evaluations would need to identify the progress or regression of a candidate in terms of being more sacrificial or selfish. Giving successional candidates projects and assignments specifically designed to develop sacrificial orientations and expose selfish inclinations is another practical example used so well by the leader in the introduction. Other orders that need overturning are those that assume successful successions involve the dynastic handover of leadership to family members or the corporate reshuffle of top leaders. For example, many of the non-western leaders I know personally have prepared for succession by handing over or are planning to hand over leadership to their children. One incumbent has already handed over the leadership of two non-profit organisations to a son and daughter respectively. Two thriving training organisations have chosen dynastic succession from father to son. Worldwide, dynastic or familial successions are the most common forms of leadership transition practiced today. A natural, especially western, response to these obvious problems with dynastic successions is to
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maintain corporate orders. Top leadership responsibility for managing a transition, leadership development programs and systematic succession planning and management systems are all examples of these ‘best practice’ solutions. Despite the prevalence of these succession techniques and technologies, research shows that maintaining these corporate orders are not necessarily solving succession crisis13. Some of the main causes of these corporate failures are that few successors are prepared as ready replacements and incumbents who leave too early or too late in a transition are the rule rather than exception. However, even with strong evidence that many of these unsuccessional practices cause transition crisis, overturning these entrenched succession orders is challenging. Whenever I share my succession concerns with colleagues and friends, most honestly admit to their succession fears and failures. For example, the director of a large, multinational charity admitted that leadership succession is ‘something we do badly’. At the time, he went on to tell me candidly that he had made no concrete plans for a leadership successor and neither have most of his counterparts in the organisation. To date, he has turned this situation around by handing leadership over to a successor and staying on as chairman to guide his new successor. Now he is asking how long he should stay on post succession and whether it is actually necessary to do so. Conventional corporate wisdom says he should move on sooner rather than later. By overturning this order, this outgoing leader could stay on for a time post-succession as a guide, advocate and counsellor to his successor. Obviously this sort of post-succession oversight is uncommon in corporate settings. Then again, few corporate or dynastic successions fail at all levels of a firm at one time. For example, some organisations can have relatively successful successions at ‘ministerial’ or supervisor levels in field offices yet are at risk at ‘head office’ mastery level. This is because specific orders and
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hierarchies at that level of management are not acting successionally. For instance, the head of a large and rapidly growing small business development firm shared that while his workers in the field are preparing and appointing successors quite well, their top leaders, including him, are aging. No successors have been prepared to take over these top jobs. He admitted that this failure to prepare executive replacements was one the gravest threats to their organisation’s longevity. Overturning orders at all levels of an organisation are critical for successful succession to occur properly. Reasons why these psychological and physical orders are the way they are is discussed more fully in Key 3, “Exposing Egos”. It suffices to say that much helpful succession planning and management advice and activity is focusing on improving transition processes through better techniques and technologies. Collectively these activities, often called “practices”, are designed to maintain status quos not change them. Though succession improvement practices such as transition planning and leadership development are helpful at a process level, they are not usually designed to impact successions at a cultural or deeper values level14. One of the reasons for this pragmatic approach is the widely and rightly held view that cultural values are much more difficult to change than technical practices. However it is unlikely that succession orders can be overturned at a practice level if not supported by a fundamental change of values in practitioners. This is especially the case with actions relating to altruism and self-sacrifice for others. Findings presented in 7Keys 3 notes the importance of the strong link between values and practices for such sacrificial actions to occur.
Breaking down barriers
The truth of this reality with overturning orders is borne out by research that shows top leaders, such as new Chief Executive Officers (CEOs), have a tendency to pursue their own self-interests at the expense of other
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stakeholders such as employees and shareholders15. Unsurprisingly, such selfishness has tragic implications. For example, ongoing global financial crisis painfully reveals that prescribed ‘best practices’ performed by selfish practitioners usually fail because practitioners as leaders dictate practices, not the other way around. Therefore, to overturn orders, deliberate action must be taken to break down existing barriers and boundaries that inhibit the last coming first. These actions must be intentionally designed to overturn and expose existing orders, as the business owner at the beginning of this chapter did. One important way of doing this is to understand the hierarchies that normally operate in organisations. Studying the strong boundaries that occur between different levels of authority in organisations is as good a place as any to start observing these orders in operation. For example, most organisations tend to have three main levels of authority: ministers, mediators and masters. Ministers usually serve others as workers or supervisors with lower levels of authority. Masters are those who excel in certain fields of professional expertise or in leading others. Mediators often act as go-betweens and are most often recognised as managers and team leaders. It is concerning to note today how so many government and religious ministers have deviated from the original intent of the word “minister” which literally means servant, in order to ‘serve’ others selfishly rather than sacrificially. Introducing these terms: ministers, mediators and masters and ministry, mediation and mastery, as defined above, are helpful in identifying leadership structures and leader styles. They also help explain the barriers that exist between these groups and the strength of these boundaries in organisations. Each of these functional and behavioural descriptions of selfish to sacrificial successions and successors will become more obvious in the ensuing chapters. As positions and vocations, these barriers are recognisable in religious institutions through the orders
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of prophets, priests and laity. Similarly, in educational organisations, there are well-defined producers, reproducers and acquirers of knowledge. Functionally, in corporations, there is a hierarchy of workers or staff overseen by managers and supervisors managed by executives or directors. See for example the following diagram that shows how this three-tier people hierarchy tends to operate in most organisations.
Three-Tier People Hierarchy
People MASTERS MEDIATORS MINISTERS Corporate Executives/Directors Managers/Supervisors Staff/Workers Dynastic Owners Managers/Supervisors Staff/Workers Churches Pastors Elders/Deacons Members
Figure 1: Three-Tier Hierarchy
As a rule, in each of these types of organisation, relatively strong boundaries exist between each class of leader. Despite these boundaries or orders being diluted somewhat by increasingly distributed online forms of knowledge, power and functions, due to the Internet in particular, even a casual observer can recognise that these boundaries of varying strengths and strata remain in most organisations. Another way of looking at hierarchies is from a process perspective. In other words, those authorised to make decisions and pass them on to others.
Three-Tier Process Hierarchy Managerial Educational Authorise Produce Exercise Reproduce Receive Acquire
Process MASTERY MEDIATORY MINISTRY
Familial Own Manage Serve
Figure 2: Three-Tier Practice Hierarchy
As sociologist Basil Bernstein (1924-2000) astutely observed, people in one category are unlikely to be accepted in another class until they become a part of that class. Another rule is that, usually, one can only occupy one category at a time16. Applied to succession, the stronger the boundary between each class of successor (minister, mediator and master) and practice (ministry,
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mediation and mastery) is in an organisational structure, the more difficult these orders are to overturn. Similar rules apply to selfish versus sacrificial styles of successors and succession.
Notwithstanding these enormous structural and behavioural challenges, overturning these orders is a must, because this first key opens the other doors to successful succession. As with the business owner’s successor candidates, their tendency to be more selfish than sacrificial became immediately obvious when their expectations about coming first were challenged. Planning and implementing similar challenges to the status quo as the business owner did will do two things. First, it will reveal the sacrificial to selfish motivations of many potential successors. Secondly, it will give those who normally come last a real opportunity to be first. This intentional turning of the tables can be a valuable exercise in the process of identifying more sacrificial successor candidates and eliminate those who are more selfishly motivated. Within this intent to overturn orders peace rather than disorder or chaos should prevail, even though apparently strange even illogical outcomes may emerge, such as the first coming last and last coming first. More sacrificial rather than selfish successors can then become contenders. Regardless of these positive intentions, it must be acknowledged that even a relatively peaceful overturning of orders by a sacrificial leader such as the one described in the introduction will not be comfortable. Any change to a status quo such as that of overturning orders is by its very strangeness a painful exercise. However, once this key of overturning orders has opened the door to these radical changes, the next key of readying replacements can be enacted safe in the knowledge that the right door has been opened. In so much as it depends on you don’t be overly concerned about the implications of trying to enact these strange opportunities to overturn orders, as the business
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owner did. There are numerous ways that this can be done, and here are some practical examples: 1. Give people who have served faithfully in the field the same opportunities as potential successors to those from head office. 2. Offer potential successors from non-managerial backgrounds, such as technical and social experts, opportunities to come first. 3. Promote people who have a history of sacrificing for others, rather than for themselves, first and be prepared to offer them leadership. 4. Provide potential successors coming or starting last similar opportunities to those who started first and normally come first. 5. Permit other personalities, such as introverts, not normally considered for leadership to be prepared as potential successors. 6. Reward practitioners who have a sacrificial and altruistic track record of serving others more than self-serving professionals. 7. Recognise the selfish orders that need to be overturned in your organisation and be prepared to enact altruistic changes.
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“I no longer call you staff because staff do not know what their leaders are doing. Instead I call you my friends, because everything I have learned from my predecessor I have made known to you”—The Leader
Having ready replacements is not just about
producing enough leaders and managers capable of taking over leadership from incumbents. Instead it is about incumbents intentionally preparing successors to replace them. Remember the leader in the introduction who clearly spelled out the timing of the transition and regularly reminded his disciples about his upcoming sacrificial succession? He intentionally trained them for transition over a three-and-a-half year period. Similar to overturning orders, despite have some rather ‘strange’ logic that selfless successors are ultimately more successful than selfAt least once in a successor’s interested ones, readying replacements lifetime—and for most many is not an ad hoc activity. Deliberate action is required to track the times—this transitional journey from ministry to development of a candidate being mastery will be mediated by prepared as a successor to ensure they selfishness or sacrifice. are the right person for the job. Recall the three orders mentioned in the previous key of ministry, mediation and mastery that define leadership levels and practices in most organisations? These same successional terms can be applied as phases to the journey successors take as leaders. At least once in a successor’s lifetime—and for most many times—this transitional journey from ministry to mastery will be mediated by selfishness or sacrifice.
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In this sense, as mentioned briefly earlier, transition is the context in which a succession occurs. Leadership transitions must involve a predecessor and successor and include three distinct phases: 1) Presuccession preparation or planning, 2) Succession event or trigger where leadership is handed over and 3) a Postsuccession phase where successor becomes master17. For an organisation to continue functioning as an entity, at some point, this succession process starts again then continues in cycles. Pre-succession preparation can be well planned or ad hoc. Successors normally replace predecessors during the succession event. More often than not at this point predecessors leave. Occasionally predecessors stay on post-succession. Essentially a person’s “ministry” phase is when they are predominantly in voluntary service or subordination to others, usually with the aim of using this period of service to further their career. See the diagram below which describes these selfish to sacrificial leadership transitions.
Stages Phases Sacrificial ThreeStage Selfish One or TwoStage Pre-Succession Ministry Others-serving altruism and sacrifice Succession Mediatory Sacrifices midtenure for successor success Post-Succession Mastery Altruistic advocacy with leadership for successors Stays on too long till end of mastery phase
Leaves too early during ministry or mediatory phase
Figure 3: Selfish to Sacrificial Transitions
Everyone goes through a ministry phase at least once in life when they learn something from someone else. For example, to get a qualification or when first starting a job. For most leaders, a self-serving ‘ministry’ becomes a stepping-stone to mastery mediated by some sort of skill or ability. A key question here for preparing ready replacements is how they serve others — sacrificially or selfishly—during their ministry phase? Assessing whether (or not) a person has served more selfishly with expectation or selflessly without expectation is an important measure of the man or woman being considered or groomed as successor. The
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mediatory phases of successors’ leadership journeys help define how they mediate mastery. Here a similar question can be asked to that of the ministry phase evaluation. In mediating mastery have potential successors tended to be sacrificially or selfishly orientated? Their actions during the mediatory phase strongly determine their mastery orientations. In assessing the sacrificial to selfish orientations of potential successors, a key aspect of the mediatory phase is its role in bridging the gap between the ministry and mastery phases. As a bridge between ministry and mastery, here is where selfish to sacrificial succession orientations are most obvious for assessment purposes.
Selfish to sacrificial orientations
Therefore, a candidate successor who is shown to be selfish in the first two phases, ministry and mediation, is unlikely to be a sacrificial master. Conversely, a candidate successor who has demonstrated a sacrificial orientation in these first two phases has a much greater potential to be an altruistic master. Each is more likely to mediate mastery in their respective successions based on their selfish to sacrificial ministry orientations. Because of the need to observe potential successors—in action if possible—long enough during their ministry, mediatory and mastery phases to ascertain their sacrificial to selfish motivations or orientations, the process of readying sacrificial replacements takes time. The minimum recommended time is three years and it is more effective to directly observe successional candidates as they progress through these phases. Given that predecessors should be personally responsible for preparing successors, to do that most effectively requires candidates be prepared in-house. How to identify the selfish to sacrificial orientations in successors are elaborated on more fully in each of the ensuing keys. Keep in mind the following diagram as an example of the succession styles that tend to operate in the three main transitional stages of a succession.
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Whether well planned or ad hoc, in a transition there is a pre-succession phase, which occurs prior to the succession event, which comes next. Following that is the post-succession stage, which either does or does not involve replaced leader.
End-of-term succession: Mid-term succession: Sacrificial Succession:
Transitional Succession Stages
Pre-Succession Succession Event Post Succession
Transition of Leaves usually with authority occurs endno further of-tenure involvement Planning ad hoc or Transition of Stays on to play an systematic authority occurs midinfluential role tenure Ministry of preparing Mediatory sacrifice Mastery by sacrificial successors mid-tenure for advocating for successors successor success Planning ad hoc or systematic
Figure 4: Transitional Succession Phases
It suffices to say that in the process of preparing ready replacements keeping these three succession phases or stages top of mind is critical. Particularly important is the first part of the ministry phase where, if possible, the candidates should be unaware that they are being Particularly important is the considered as potential first part of the ministry phase successors. This enables where, if possible, the candidate incumbent to evaluate their should be unaware that they are being considered as successors. motives for serving others before the candidate is conscious that such activities may contribute positively to their chances of being chosen as successor. For a sacrificial succession this ministry of service phase involves two distinct stages. The first is the one just mentioned whereby opportunities to serve others are given to potential successors before they are aware that they are candidates. Enacting this stage at the beginning of the preparation phase is to help ascertain a candidate’s motivations to serve others before he or she has a position or promotion in mind. In some cases, particularly in corporate successions, this assessment may be practically impossible due to a candidate already being in a
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leadership position, such as management. Similarly, many candidates are appointed directly to leadership positions from an educational ‘ministry’ at university. With these sorts of managerial appointments, sacrificial qualities are more difficult to ascertain. As such, these sorts of educational and managerial appointments are not recommended by the 7Keys. Nevertheless, these successional principles can usually be applied prior to considering candidate eligibility for a consecutive promotion to another level. Next in a ministry stage is to evaluate how a candidate serves others through a leadership position. By comparing differences between how candidates minister to others without expecting a promotion then through a leadership position helps to identify more selfish to sacrificial orientations. These initial successor orientations are normally indicative of future ones.
Ministry mediates mastery
The reason that the ministry phase and its two stages of service prior to and through leadership are so important is that they tend to set the scene for the future mediatory and mastery orientations of a successor. Simply put, ministry mediates mastery. In other words, the way a candidate chooses to minister is the strongest indicator of how they will mediate their successions and master in transitions. Keeping the key of overturning orders as the rationale for further action, ready replacements are those that have been intentionally given ministry opportunities that require serving and sacrificing for others. As mentioned earlier, it is unfortunate that many successors follow technical, educational and managerial ‘ministry’ pathways that do not expose them to or require these ministry-of-service experiences. Consequently, many successors mediate professional mastery in their fields without ever having learned to serve sacrificially in a ministry phase beyond self-serving study and hard work to achieve personal success. Selfishly orientated ministers such as these are
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more likely to mediate and master through transitions in a self-interested way. Predictably, such self-interest ultimately results in authoritarian successions. Two main succession outcomes can be predicted depending on successor orientations using the equation: ministry x mediates x mastery = authoritarian or altruistic succession. A selfish successor’s ministry orientation will be predominantly self-serving mediated by familial or managerial advancement. An authoritarian mastery of dynastic or corporate power is the predictable succession outcome of this self-interested transition. Alternatively, an altruistic succession outcome involves significantly different successor orientations that are sacrificial and others-serving. An altruistic ministry of service should be mediated by a mid-tenure sacrifice of leadership specifically for successor success. Staying on post-succession as successor advocate is another characteristic of a sacrificial successor. An altruistic rather than authoritarian succession outcome is predicated by this mediatory sacrifice. See the following diagram that maps these selfish to sacrificial pathways.
Ministry (M1) x Mediates (M2) x Mastery (M3) =
Self-serving Sacrifice others for Selfish authority of technical or managerial or power and Authoritarian (S1) vocational service familial advancement professionalism Others-serving altruism and sacrifice Self-sacrifice midtenure for successor success Altruistic advocacy with leadership for successors
Figure 5: Succession Equations
Until the nexus of self-interest is overturned in favour of a sacrificial orientation then selfishly orientated successors and successions of varying degrees should be the expected outcome. Keys to changing this status quo of self-interest are shared towards the end of this book. An obvious counterargument to seeking more sacrificially orientated successors is that there may not be enough of them or that they may not be assertive or aggressive enough to be effective masters.
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Indeed, this is a valid concern if current orders are not overturned. The truth is that if opportunities are given for the last to come first and the correct steps for assessing sacrificial service to others prior to potential successors becoming leaders, then though leadership positions are followed, the right successors can be identified. Recent research into leader self-sacrifice confirms this truth. Sacrificial leaders are shown to be particularly effective when their sacrifice is mediated by a concern for their followers rather than themselves18. Similarly related findings note that sacrificial leaders are able to boost follower performance even if they are atypical of great leaders19. Having a strong professional will and personal humility are found to be two of the most important characteristics of altruistic leaders20. Therefore, one of the keys with finding the right replacements is mapping how potential successors develop as leaders. While it continues to be debated whether leaders are primarily born and bred or nurtured and naturalised into leadership, there is a consensus that effective leaders must develop and mature on the job. Three interrelated phases of Leaders cannot start making sense of service until they are at dependent, independent and the dependent or interpersonal interdependent growth are theorised as leaders mature. stage of maturity. Based on these definitions leaders must first learn to depend on others before they can become independent leaders. Following this first phase more mature leaders recognise the need to progress beyond independence. As they mature further, leaders go on to learn interdependence or to be “inter-independent” 21. Applied to the three succession phases of ministry, mediation and mastery, the key question is how potential successors interpret service to and sacrifice for others through each of these progressive phases. While mastery can be equated with maturity, a sacrificial master is completely different to a selfish one. Even the timing of their successions is distinct. With a
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selfish master, their succession tends to end too late or too early, whereas sacrificial masters make their mediatory sacrifice at the midpoint of a transition. Each of these significant differences between sacrificial and selfish successors are detailed in the final chapter. For the purpose of explaining this key of readying replacements in successions, the main factor to keep in mind is that successors develop differently depending on their sacrificial to selfish motivations. Tracking a potential successor’s journey through these three phases helps reveal their selfish to sacrificial orientations. Following this as a developmental framework, findings by Kelly Phipps conclude that leaders cannot start making sense of service until they are at the dependent or interpersonal stage of maturity22. This is primarily because, until then, they are usually not mature enough to have learned to subordinate personal goals and agendas in the best interests of others.
Direct succession relationships
On this basis then, potential successors can learn to develop altruistically through ministry, mediatory and mastery exercises designed to promote and encourage sacrificial rather than selfish service. However, due to these motivations being unnatural—even strange— preparing ready replacements that are more service orientated than power hungry takes time. Remember the rule: ministry mediates mastery. These three distinct, yet related, phases require incumbent to be directly involved in preparing altruistic, ready replacements. These phases cannot be fast-tracked or circumvented and must be followed through. Observing how a potential successor facilitates their succession through these ministry, mediatory and mastery phases gives a clearer picture of their succession orientations. A particularly important insight into a potential successor’s sacrificial or selfish orientation is gained if a number of these succession phases can be observed successively then compared to find indicators of whether
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the subject is progressing towards one end of the sacrificial to selfish spectrum more than another. Karl Popper explains that this form of scientific analysis is based on the probability of “neighbourhood selection”23. In other words, by studying the links between related elements, certain relationships can be identified. For example, by ordering primary elements in a numbered sequence. In this case, the order of ministry, mediatory and mastery orientations related to secondary sacrificial and selfish orientations. In so doing, certain neighbourhood relations are created that are observable and predictable. Therefore, in transitions the primary sequence is these three succession phases and the secondary relationships are the sacrificial to selfish links to these succession phases. By comparing the selfish to sacrificial track record of potential successors within and between multiple transitions, gives a good indicator of each candidate’s succession orientations. See the diagram below that compares between four transitions.
Comparing Multiple Transitions
Transition 1 Potential Successor Sacrifices Altruistically or Selfishly…?
Ministry Yes/No How? Ministry Yes/No How? Mediation Yes/No How? Mastery Yes/No How? Mastery Yes/No How? Ministry Yes/No How? Ministry Yes/No How?
Mediation Yes/No How? Mastery Yes/No How? Mastery Yes/No How?
Mediation Yes/No How?
Mediation Yes/No How?
Figure 6: Comparing Multiple Transitions
Based on this logic, the more transitional sequences or successions observed the better the quality of assessment that can be made about potential successor orientations. Comparing each of these relationships over time is effective triangulation. This exercise in successor assessment and preparation is best done directly by incumbents for their direct successors rather than a leadership collective of professional mentors and coaches. While professionals are helpful, especially in providing specialist advice, facts and information, they play a different role to incumbent as discipler. Because of this fundamentally different role and relationship, the
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earlier use of the word “disciple” was deliberate. It was chosen to describe successional candidates rather than more commonly used words such as trainees, learners or students, etc., because the authenticity of a disciple is defined by their proximity to their predecessor. John N. Williams describes this relational closeness between predecessor and successor as being “true succession” 24. Integral to this idea about true succession is that in some sense predecessor directly influences successor. Along similar, though more poetic lines, goes the Hebrew saying, “May you always be covered by the dust of your rabbi25.” Being a disciple necessitates two things that are especially important for readying replacements. First it requires discipline that: corrects, moulds and perfects the mental faculties and The authenticity of a moral character of the disciple. Second, disciple is defined by their proximity to their this sort of discipleship works best when modelled by predecessor. predecessor. With such “direct succession relationships” between predecessor and successor, the primary legitimacy a successor has is due to their direct succession relationship with predecessor. Instead of professional managerial and technical skills or familial and collegial ties being the primary determiners or mediators of successor success, it is their proximity to predecessors that counts. It is worth noting here that enacting direct succession relationships by incumbents readying replacements is regarded by some contemporary leadership studies as being a less effective form of leadership development26. This is because of an assumption that building the bench strength of an overall leadership team is more effective than slating or shortlisting specific candidates as replacements. However, direct succession relationships as defined here are about the direct discipling relationship between incumbent and successor. The aim is two-fold. Build the strength of an overall team of successors and prepare specific successors to take over particular roles.
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Therefore, direct succession relationships are primarily about incumbent attitudes towards successors and vice versa. Remember what the leader said: “I no longer call you my staff because staff do not know what their leaders are doing. Instead I call you my friends, because everything I have learned from my predecessors I have made known to you.” Treating potential successors as friends and colleagues rather than subordinates or staff is a genuine outworking of this successional truth.
Obviously the potential for abuse in direct succession relationships is often found in the close ties necessary between predecessors and successors for these relational bonds to occur. This risk factor must be acknowledged. Due to such biases being a problem, in most successions the rule is that outgoing leaders are usually not involved in the final choice of successors or tend to leave prior to their appointment27. Consequently, few outgoing leaders are directly involved post-succession in advocating for successors. Indeed this is a realistic and pragmatic approach, especially when dealing with leaders proven to be selfishly orientated. However this approach falls short in successions for two important reasons. First, outgoing leaders held responsible for their own successional outcomes have a higher stake in them being successful. Second, as will be discussed more in in the final seventh 7Key, outgoing leaders can have a positive impact post-succession as advocates for successors—both for newly incumbent leaders and the next generation of successors. On this basis, preparing ready replacements as successors requires incumbent to sacrifice their time to personally prepare successors both pre- and postsuccession. This is an integral part of an outgoing leader’s pre-succession ministry phase and postsuccession mastery phase of a sacrificial succession.
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Obviously, a reorientation towards personally preparing ready replacements may be ‘strange’ for many leaders. Despite these views, research shows that potential successors value such direct succession relationships more highly than virtually any other forms of leadership development28. Incumbents who practice such direct succession relationships with potential successors will find this activity personally challenging and rewarding. Strong bonds between incumbent and potential successors are formed. Similarly, organisations that support predecessors in this activity of directly preparing ready replacements will find their leadership pipelines start flowing again. In closing this chapter, it must be acknowledged that preparing ready replacements through direct succession relationships between predecessor and successor is potentially open to abuse. Due to these legitimate concerns, the next two keys—exposing egos and open oversight deal with this potential problem of succession biases and favouritism openly and honestly, with practical suggestions. Despite these risks of bias in direct succession relationships, if ready replacements that are sacrificial rather than selfish begin to dominate, then selfish orders can and will be overturned. To recap, the process of readying replacements starts with the ability to see that healthy leadership transitions have three distinct phases: pre-succession, a succession event and post-succession. For a sacrificial succession to occur, these three phases involve 1) a ministry of altruistic service prior to and through leadership, 2) the primary mediator of these direct succession relationships is incumbent leader sacrificing their leadership mid-tenure and 3) a mastery of advocacy post-succession by outgoing leader is a continuation of this relationship by advocating for newly incumbent leader and readying the next generation of successors. It is important to understand that incumbents and successors mediate each of these transitional phases sacrificially or selfishly. Remember the equation:
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ministry mediates mastery? As a rule, if a sacrificial succession is not deliberately enacted then, by default, a more authoritarian succession that is either familially or managerially orientated is the most likely outcome. Because each potential successor goes through a number of transitional ministry, mediatory and mastery phases in their lifetimes, tracking and comparing sequences of these transitions is important to ascertain selfish to sacrificial successor orientations. By comparing within and between these transitions, the altruistic to selfinterested progression of a potential successor can be ascertained and tracked. The next key of exposing egos is particularly helpful for providing insights into the sacrificial to selfish behaviour, progression and regression of potential successors. It exposes the selfish sacrifices that aspiring successors are willing to make and explains how to deal with such potential conflicts in a positive way. To practically apply the main points of this chapter in preparing altruistic ready replacements in a succession, keep these main factors in mind: 1. Make sure the pre-succession is long enough to observe first-hand how potential successors serve others prior to and through leadership. 2. Note the importance of comparing these two distinct aspects of a ministry of service over a number of transitions if possible. 3. Ensure that the primary mediator of direct succession relationships is incumbent leader who intentionally prepares sacrificial successors. 4. Ready replacements are prepared for a transition because of being informed in advance of the succession timeline by incumbent. 5. Use the succession equation: ministry mediates mastery to check the sacrificial to selfish progress of potential successors over a number of transitions.
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“I have paid the price of your succession. You are now ready to succeed me. Now I will go back to see which of the others are ready” – Leader
There was a leader with three followers.
they came to him asking, “What must we do to succeed you?” The Leader answered, “Are you ready?” The first follower replied, “I think so.” The second, answered, “I believe so.” The last replied, “Not yet.” “Follow this road,” the Leader said, pointing into the distance. Eventually you will come to three gates. The first and largest gate has written on it one word: ‘MASTER’. By entering it you will master whatever you try. On the next and second largest gate you will find inscribed ‘MEDIATOR’. Upon entering it you will be able to mediate whatever you want. The last and smallest gate is imprinted with the word ‘MINISTER’ and upon entering it you will be able to minster to whomever you choose. Remember to select carefully, their Leader said, your successions depend on it.” Following the road, the first of the three followers arrived at the three gates and thought, “If I master everything, I can do just about anything…” Entering the largest gate the follower became ‘Master’. Next to arrive was the second follower, who thought, “If I can mediate between anybody I can do just about everything.” Entering the second gate he became ‘Mediator’. Last to arrive was the third follower. Looking at the three gates he thought, “I am not ready to master or mediate, but maybe I can serve my leader.” He entered the third
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and smallest gate and became ‘Minister’. Each went on their respective journeys using their chosen strengths. Eventually each arrived at a great river too wide to cross. Looking around each saw the other and their leader standing looking across to the other side. “We must cross the river”, the Leader said. While they were standing looking at the vast expanse of water, a small boat with a rough looking boatman appeared. “I only take two passengers at a time and one stays with me as payment for the other’s passage to the other side,” the Boatman growled. Each looked at the other. Master spoke first, “Boatman, as Master I can offer you either Mediator or Minister as my payment”. Mediator followed by saying, “As Mediator, I can offer you Master or Minister for my passage.” “But which of you are willing to sacrifice yourself for the other? Only one of you will set foot on the other side; the other must remain as my payment,” reminded the Boatman. Remaining silent, both Master and Mediator shook their heads. Finally, Minister spoke to his leader, “As your servant, I will sacrifice myself for your passage as my ministry to you.” The Leader and Boatman nodded in agreement. Off they set, leaving Master and Mediator arguing about who should pay for the other’s passage. Soon they were nearing the opposite bank. “Remember our deal”, Boatman threatened, “one of you must sacrifice your passage for the other.” As the boat bumped the bank, Minister bowed his head, accepting his fate. Suddenly he felt himself being lifted onto dry land. “No!” Minister cried, “I did this for you.” The Leader replied, “Everything I have learned from my Leader I have made known to you. I have paid the price of your succession. You are now ready to succeed me. Now I will go back to see which of the others is ready.”
Three Gates is an analogy about succession as the handover of leadership. It shows the characteristics of leadership successors. Any would-be successor should be able to recognise more of themselves in one of these
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characters than the others. Peel away the platitudes and these characteristics are also evident in their fellow leadership competitors. Anyone who has ever been involved in or with a leadership succession knows how competitive such a contest can be. There are spoken and unspoken arguments about who is the greatest. Getting someone close to the leader to put in a good word for you, like a family member, friend or colleague is a common ploy, especially in dynastic successions. Another effective tactic, if used with tact, is taking the direct approach and personally seeking special favours. Being willing to serve and even sacrifice in anticipation of meriting special favour is also a key strategy of selfish leadership successors. When we hear about these selfish behaviours most of us become indignant, right? Yet if we are honest we have all played these games or thought about playing them. Most leadership successors are defined by the succession orientations exemplified by Master and Mediator in Three Gates. Even Ministers, in most Being willing to serve and even sacrifice in anticipation cases, serve with self-interest in of meriting special favour is mind. In other words, they serve also a key strategy of selfish with expectation. This selfish, leadership successors. ultimately authoritarian, behaviour is the antithesis of the sacrificial leadership succession enacted by the Leader. Instead, in Three Gates, minister showed by his willingness to altruistically serve and sacrifice for his leader glimpses of genuine servant leadership. However, in Three Gates, the real game changer was the sacrifice by the Leader of his leadership for his successor ’s success. This definition of sacrificial succession is the main topic of the last key. For the purposes of exposing egos, Three Gates emphasises that successors act sacrificially or selfishly or somewhere in between. Adam Smith (17231790) in “The Wealth of Nations” argues that self-interest is the mediating characteristic separating the two29.
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Smith says few people act sacrificially without selfinterest, yet are of better character than those who are motivated by purely selfish ends. Similarly, ministry, mediatory and mastery characteristics can be interpreted by successors selfishly or sacrificially as Three Gates shows. While selfish interpretations are the rule, the strange exception is a sacrificial interpretation of each characteristic. This involves a ministry of service to others by both predecessors and successors, the mediatory sacrifice of leadership by incumbents for successors and their ongoing The reason for his failure, mastery of advocacy postaccording to his boss, was that he succession for successors. had focused on physical qualities A key requirement is that all and mental faculties rather than potential successors must undergo the moral character and ethical a sacrificial ministry phase before conduct of the candidates. they can go on to mediate and master in leadership. Because these days, many potential successor ‘ministries’ consist of technical, educational and managerial expertise, they have seldom learned to minister sacrificially. Naturally they tend to mediate selfishly.
Heart before head
Therefore, before a sacrificial succession can be enacted, it is crucial to expose selfish and sacrificial egos. To do this the focus of successor assessments must first and foremost be on a potential successor’s charact er rather than their mental faculties or physical attributes. The following true story explains this different use of priorities in choosing successors well. A senior manager was charged by his boss with the job of choosing a successor to replace an underperforming leader. An experienced manager of men, he chose a group of candidates who physically looked the part for the job and passed all the psychological tests. His checklist included assessments of their 1) physical appearance, presentation and style, 2) positional
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power, standing and status, 3) physical dimensions such as height and stature, and 4) their personal mental and spiritual faculties. All passed with flying colours, particularly the first candidate who the manager was sure would be accepted by his leader. He was the “one”! You can imagine, then, the manager’s surprise when his boss rejected his first choice as candidate and his shock when his leader informed him that none of his short-listed candidates qualified as successors. The reason for his failure, according to his boss, was that he had focused on physical qualities and mental faculties rather than the moral character and ethical conduct of the candidates. This manager is not alone in making this mistake when choosing successors. In most cases, the first four physical and mental qualities receive the most attention. For example, in many Eastern cultures, points one and two usually dominate. Status and standing often take precedence over physical and psychological attributes. Westerners consider point one and prefer point four in particular. The predominance of personality tests and assessing gifts and strengths is indicative of this focus. The point made by this story is that when considering leadership successors heart before head must apply.
Bred or built?
If not, then the wrong successors are likely to be chosen because of an overemphasis on favoured personalities and physiques and an under-emphasis on character and conduct. Obviously the steps that the manager took were helpful in characterising his candidates. These methods are commonly employed today because of the recognition that there is an integral link between the physical and psychological. People are both bred and built. Therefore, the manager was right to look at the physical style and standing of the candidates and in assuming that some traits, such as personality, are inborn. Equally, attributes built on through life experiences were also tested. Research supports both
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approaches, with the main argument being around the degree to which a person is born as or built into a leader30. Historically the trend has been gradually changing from an emphasis on inborn personality traits to that of desirable attributes that anyone can develop irrespective of their original personalities. Indeed, there is no doubt that certain personalities may be more naturally suited for leadership31. Research shows, for example, that extroverts often tend towards mastery of others and those who are mediatory orientated may be more open and conscientious, whereas ministry orientated individuals can be naturally more agreeable and altruistic. This normal distribution of natural ministers, mediators and masters may well produce more mediatory orientated people in the middle and masters and ministers at either end of the spectrum as a “Bell Curve” predicts. However, the main point of the stories about leaders who overturned orders by promoting the last first, sacrificing leadership for successors and focusing on character rather than capabilities is that exposing egos must ultimately go beyond the physical and psychological to be genuinely effective.
3.5 3 2.5 2 1.5 1 0.5 0 Ministers
Figure 7: Natural Distributions of Leaders
The reason for this truth should be obvious from the stories and analogies shared so far. All of the ‘strange’ actions described in these cases were unnatural and challenged established norms. Importantly, they ultimately did not rely on physical or psychological traits
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to be altruistic. Instead, sacrificial actions are more integrally tied to a successor’s character—having the heart and will to do what is right and necessary to fully carry out a succession program.
Therefore, personal character qualities and actions such as altruism are more closely related to “culture” because values and ethics ultimately outwork themselves through an individual, organisational and national ethos. Samuel P. Huntington in his Foreword to the book “Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress” notes that, ultimately, the outworking of values through cultures is what defines human progress32. In other words, while values are important in and of themselves, their true worth is found in their outworking through culture as the way that people actually behave. Herein is a simple yet important truth. Many people know what they should do yet fail to act the way they know they should. Assessing whether a potential successor’s culture is more about being a knower or doer is another simple way of exposing selfish and sacrificial egos in successions. Important here are findings from a Global Leadership and Organizational Behaviour Effectiveness (GLOBE) study of culture and leadership. The integral link between head—knowing what is right and heart— doing what is right is well founded33. Where the nexus between the two breaks down, then a value such as the Humane Orientation of fairness, altruism and kindness may be esteemed, as an intellectual ideal by practitioners, yet not be culturally practiced in reality. With a humane orientation’s similarities to the sacrificial orientations of service, sacrifice and advocacy in this study, this research confirms the critical need to expose egos at the character and cultural level. This truth becomes especially obvious with the integral link between successional service and sacrifice. There are many ways that sacrificial rather than selfish motivations can be identified through exposing egos.
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For example, by comparing the consistency of what potential successors say and do. The story is told of two potential successors. Their predecessor went to the first and said, “I need you to visit one of our field offices today.” He answered, “Today I cannot, I am too busy,” but afterward he changed his mind and went. The predecessor went to the other potential successors and said the same. He answered, “I will go, right away, sir.” But did not go. Which of the two is the better potential successor? Those who initially refuse to do something yet eventually do it are arguably more selfless than those who seem agreeable yet do not follow through. Simple exercises like these help reveal selfish to sacrificial motivations and exposes the egos underpinning them. Observing the progress of candidates given special projects in the field rather than head office and their service to others, especially subordinates is another important way of assessing successional and unsuccessional orientations. Providing opportunities for potential successors to minister to people of other cultures and positions and mediate in situations that require self-sacrifice are all helpful tests of altruistic to selfish motivations as works-in-progress.
The importance of real time observations of potential successors is important for assessing altruism. Studying the story mentioned briefly in the introduction about the leader being approached by successional aspirants is helpful. These two brothers wanted to get the best chance of being chosen as successors. They approached the leader, with the help of a family member, after being told about his upcoming succession plans. An obvious risk with incumbent being open about predicting an upcoming succession is that successional candidates are more likely to seek favours once this information is known. The reality is these are some of the risks that incumbents must take in being sacrificial. After
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hearing of the upcoming succession, first the mother then the sons came to seek favour in the upcoming succession. Humbly they approached the leader with an interesting proposal: “Give us your word that we will be awarded the highest places of honour in your succession as your successors.” The leader responded, “You have no idea what you're asking.” Then he said to them, “Are you capable of making the sacrifice that I am about to make?” Their self-confident reply, “We are!” Confirming their willingness to sacrifice, their leader replied, “Indeed you will make similar sacrifices to me. But as to selecting you as my successors, that's not my business. My leaders are taking care of that, because I am open to oversight.” Note that in this case, the leader did not deny their willingness to sacrifice. Based on their proposal and the leader’s response, the willingness of these successional candidates to sacrifice to attain leadership seemed genuine enough. Wisely, the leader did two important things. Firstly he assessed the degree to which their motivations for sacrifice were selfish or sacrificial. Secondly he ensured that they understood that he was open to the oversight of others in selecting successors. Once both these steps were taken by incumbent the enthusiasm for favour seeking diminished amongst these candidates. Incumbents who are willing to take these difficult steps in assessing altruism will be rewarded by more accurate information about potential successors and their succession orientations.
As mentioned earlier, this sort real time ‘trackrecord’ testing takes time, especially compared to one-off psyche and strengths tests that assume certain individuals are predisposed to certain responses. For example, with the Strengths Finder assessment, which focuses on identifying personal talent, the emphasis is about building on positive behaviour34. Whilst helpful, to effectively track someone’s sacrificial or self -interested
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transitions requires a focus on both positive and negative succession outcomes over time. Firstly, the positives of sacrifice and negatives of self-interest may not be immediately obvious unless tracked over time. Secondly, naturally altruistic leaders may not be ultimately as effective as selfish leaders who learn to be altruistic. The reason for this conclusion is that naturally service-orientated people do not require a change of heart to be altruistic, whereas a naturally selfish individual can only become sacrificial because of an intentional change of heart. Therefore, most of these positive psychology assessments are inadequate for the purposes of assessing sacrificial orientations. Instead, sacrificial succession pays attention to the way potential successors respond to situations selfishly and sacrificially. Also, sacrificial succession puts a lot of emphasis on what others, particularly subordinates, say about potential successors. Another important factor for successional assessments is that evaluations occur over a sufficient enough period of time to track changes: positive and negative, selfish and sacrificial. During this process, particular attention is paid to trends in the way a candidate ministers, mediates and masters selfishly or sacrificially. Not that this successor assessment should be done within each succession phase and over a number of successions then compared. A similar process can be used to compare between potential successors. Here are some helpful questions to answer in the process of exposing egos: Are candidates successively progressing towards being more sacrificial or selfish in each successive phase (ministry, mediatory and mastery) of their transitions?
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How do nominees minister to others, especially subordinates, prior to being in leadership and following their appointments to leadership positions and roles? Particularly in mediating successions are candidates demonstrating a willingness to sacrifice their leadership to benefit successors or are they more likely to act with personal self-interest? Upon achieving mastery do aspirants have a history of staying on to advocate for new leaders or moving on to realise their own personal ambitions and/or leave behind problematic situations?
While this is not an exhaustive list, exposing egos is much easier when orders are overturned and ready replacements are drawn from the last not just the first in line. What should be obvious is that when unnatural, counter-cultural, crisis situations arise, such as with the Three Gates analogy, and story about the equal bonuses for the first as well as the last, egos and their underlying succession orientations are more easily exposed. Indeed, potential successors are willing to sacrifice, as the disciples of the leader mentioned in the story about seeking succession favours demonstrate. The question for that leader and every incumbent choosing and preparing successors is why are they willingly serving? Is it with the expectation that their sacrifice will improve their succession, or is sacrifice for others more an end in itself, without expectation? Because of his direct succession relationship with potential successors, this leader was well aware of the need to be open to the oversight of other leaders during the transition. This is the main topic of the next key. He knew that the art of exposing egos went well beyond understanding the physical and psychological potential of candidate successors.
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Instead, because of knowing that the outworking of their characters and cultures through sacrificial and selfish succession orientations was a most critical success factor in successions, this was where he focused his assessments of successors. Knowing the difficulty of remaining objective in such an emotionally charged situation as a succession, this leader’s openness to oversight put him in good stead as a sacrificial successor.
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“You will indeed make similar sacrifices to me but the decision about my successors is open to oversight. I am accountable to others when it comes to choosing my successors”—The Leader.
Recall this exchange between the leader and his
potential successors earlier? In the previous 7Keys a story was told about the leader being approached by people seeking special favours in the upcoming succession. This key played out with the leader questioning their motives for sacrifice and explaining that he was open to oversight in his choice of successors. In response to their requests, the leader asked an interesting question. Are you willing to make the same sort of sacrifices I am about to make for the success of this succession? Their self-confident confirmation is typical and expected of rising stars. They are willing to make sacrifices because they understand, as aspiring leaders, that sacrifices are necessary. John C. Maxwell in his book “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” confirms this norm35. He says in the 18th ‘Law of Sacrifice’ that a “Leader Must Give Up to Go Up”. While true of most successions this is not what the leader meant in the exchange mentioned above because the sacrificial succession he was planning is unnatural. His potential successors answered the leader’s question honestly enough because they were genuinely willing to sacrifice to become leaders. In fact, they had proved their willingness to sacrifice by being on the short list of potential disciplic successors this leader had gathered and prepared as ready replacements. The question is what and why were
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they willing to sacrifice? By their answer, pretty much everything, even risking their lives! Interestingly, the leader confirmed their willingness to sacrifice. He reminded them that indeed, as his successors, they would be called upon to make sacrifices. It must have come as a shock to these selfish candidates to realise that the decision about successors was subject to the oversight of others rather than incumbent alone.
Being open to oversight in the crucial decision of choosing a successor counters bias and provides balance. Most corporate governance guidelines recognise this truth by making decisions about successors the responsibility of leadership collectives such as boards and councils. This is wise and one of the strengths of corporate governance compared to family dynasties that keep decisions about successors in the family. However, one of the problems with corporate oversight of successions is that successors tend to be chosen from within the ranks of this corporate team or from amongst similar sorts of outsiders36. What this means in practical terms is that the status quo in successions tends to be maintained because even unsuccessful successors often stay on as part of the management team. The strength of such oversight is its stability. A weakness is the conclave mentality that maintains this status quo. Conclaves make other forms of oversight unlikely to be heard or considered because it is in the interests of these leadership collectives to keep it that way. Here is where the oversight for overturning orders must be different to these corporate norms. First and foremost must be the creation of an open and transparent relationship between potential successors and incumbent. The leader in the introduction made it clear in the process of preparing ready replacements that he did not consider his disciples
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subordinates or servants anymore because subordinates do not know what their leaders are doing. Instead, the leader treated his disciples and successors as friends and colleagues by sharing everything he had learned from his predecessors with them. This open transparency in regards to the transition plan and succession event is unusual in corporate successions because most successors are not privy to these decisions until they are already made by the leadership collective and passed on from above. There are a number of reasons why incumbents are not open or transparent when it comes to timely information about successions. Firstly, being open about a transition with successors makes incumbent vulnerable to manipulation such as the favour seeking shared earlier. Making the timing of a succession known to interested parties, especially successors, well in advance of it occurring, is discouraged by leadership conclaves. Secondly, most incumbents want to keep their knowledge and experience as proprietary information. Such information and knowledge is valuable for mediating leadership in their next job. This reluctance by incumbents to freely and openly share successional information with potential successors is a difficult problem to overcome in corporate transitions in particular, because of the above-mentioned issues.
One way of overcoming some of these problems with transitional transparency is fostering open oversight in successor appointments by utilising the involvement and opinions of outsiders. Outsiders are those who are potential stakeholders, such as community leaders, who do not have a vested interest in the succession process. They are especially beneficial, because they are less biased and more independent. Increasingly corporations are recognising the benefits of outside oversight and involvement, for example by local communities and other special interest groups not normally considered relevant to successions 37.
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The reason for this approach is the recognition that those normally considered irrelevant may in fact give the most unique perspectives and even solutions. In their book “Surfing the Edge of Chaos: The Laws of Nature and the New Laws of Business”, Richard T. Pascale, Mark Millemann and Linda Gioja note the benefits of this ‘positive deviance’ from established norms38. These unusual even apparently unnatural solutions are found to emerge from insiders—people within organisations—and outsiders not normally considered relevant to solving the immediate problem. Promoting outside oversight is difficult unless all positions or levels in an organisation: ministers, mediators and masters, are all involved in oversight. This activity includes genuine outsiders not directly involved in Open oversight is deliberate just the organisation, such as nonlike overturning orders. Those professionals, who have experience considered the least relevant or in diverse fields such as culture, necessary to oversight are those language and communities not that should be invested in the most. directly relevant to the business. Open oversight is deliberate just like overturning orders. Those considered the least relevant or necessary to oversight are those that should be invested in the most. Honouring the most unlikely and apparently unsuitable with an opportunity for oversight sends a strong message that favouritism for certain classes or types of successor will no longer apply in the organisation. Positive deviation from norms in terms of opening up oversight to outsiders has the potential to provide succession solutions invisible to those insiders normally tasked with making these decisions. Outsiders can provide novel solutions to problems because they are not thinking like insiders, nor do they have the same pressures to think like the status quo. Having grown up in West Kalimantan (Borneo) and worked in Indonesia for much of my adult life, having the knowledge and insights of locals has been critical, especially during times of crisis and upheaval.
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My personal respect for the knowledge of local people in assessing conflict situations has served me well in my business and personal life. An outcome of such open oversight is its provision of valuable insights into alternative ways of assessing and selecting successors. For example, by giving potential successors opportunities to work with outsiders of different cultures and creeds. Then, getting feedback on successor performance from these outsiders affected by this ministry. These outsider responses give valuable insight into whether a potential successor is genuinely teachable and sacrificial, for example. Strangely enough, it is out on the periphery, away from the corporate centre of gravity that a successor’s true self often emerges, especially when they are working with or ministering to people not considered integral to their succession aspirations. By making sure that aspiring successors are given projects that involve them helping other leaders and business areas not directly contributing to their own successions, selfish and sacrificial orientations come to the fore. Evaluating how well aspiring successors work to help other aspirants achieve their business goals and willingly leave their current succession ‘inheritance’ to help others achieve similar succession outcomes are all valuable aspects of open oversight. It enables others to assess an aspirant in action and provide independent feedback, oversight and insights into their succession orientations. All of these activities contribute to a clearer picture of potential successors’ succession orientations.
Incumbents and instructors
To do this, potential successors need to be chosen and appointed to go ahead of incumbents as their representatives into every area and place—virtually and physically—where incumbents are currently responsible. Sending out these successional candidates in teams of two helps foster camaraderie between these potential successors. By allowing them to reinforce and build networks on behalf of incumbents enables local people to
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independently assess these candidates and their succession orientations. Then, when incumbents visit, they can find out directly from these locals how these candidates did. Questions to ask are whether aspirants listened to counsel, received instruction, and accepted correction. How did they associate with the locals? Are they companions and friends who get beside the locals or champions who lord it over them? Guiding locals with integrity and simplicity and acting with understanding and insight of the local situation are all good indicators of the candidate’s successional character. If local overseers can say that so and so tended to them with an upright heart and guided them with discernment and skilfulness, this is a good testament to the sacrificial potential of a successor. To do this effectively takes two distinct types of oversight: that of incumbents and instructors. Here, it is the combined oversight and unique perspectives of both parties that facilitates openness and transparency. Because the preparatory role of incumbent as predecessor has been explained previously, the first group discussed here are successor guides or instructors. Normally, they are the coaches and mentors brought in to provide assistance and oversight of potential successors in certain personal and professional areas of expertise that need developing. Often this sort of successor mentoring is provided under the banner of professional and leadership development. These people provide instruction in key developmental areas and are valuable instructors to aspiring successors. These successor guides are able to give open oversight and feedback about a candidate’s abilities in the areas and fields of expertise they are responsible for directing and developing. For example, a key part of my business for a number of years was providing executive language and cultural orientation to executives of multinational firms operating in Indonesia. An important aspect of these projects was to give feedback to senior executives about
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the potential of a leadership candidate, and their family, to live and work in a country like Indonesia for extended periods of time. In many corporations this sort of oversight is quite commonly organised by human resource departments based on their assessments of leadership development needs. Competent successor coaches are psychologically knowledgeable, have business and cultural acumen and organisational knowledge and have the educational skills needed to coach in these areas effectively39. Coaching and mentoring by outsiders is important for a successor intent on gaining knowledge and understanding, insight and interpretation about different cultures and creeds, techniques and technologies. However, a limitation of outsider coaching and mentoring is summed up by a pithy saying, “You may have ten thousand instructors, yet you do not have many fathers.” In other words, ultimately, the most important oversight comes from those closest to you. In the case of successful successions and successors it is predecessors who are historically proven to be the most valuable overseers and instructors of potential successors. Yet research by Kim Lamoureux, Michael Campbell and Roland Smith finds that this is not typically the case in most transitions. Normally, corporate executives are not as engaged in this area of succession A limitation of outsider management as its human coaching and mentoring is resource (HR) leaders40. This is summed up by the pithy because, especially in saying, “You may have ten thousand instructors, yet you corporations, the responsibility of do not have many fathers.” developing leaders is usually the job of HR, whereas the job of selecting successors is that of executives. This separation or dichotomy is quite commonly observed, especially in large, multinational corporations. Combining incumbent and instructor oversight as seamlessly as possible is the only successful way to bridge this gap between leadership development and
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successor selection so obvious in many corporations. As the succession maps introduced later in this book predict, to be effective this sort of integrated oversight needs to be conducted throughout the three succession phases of ministry, mediation and mastery. Ultimately, however, it is the responsibility of incumbent as predecessor to ensure that the open oversight of protégés contributes to their potential as successors. It is the predecessor who should be the primary originator and transmitter of successional knowledge and understanding. Incumbents are the ones that infuse their own spirit into successors through the disciplines and discipleship mentioned earlier. They are the ones responsible for overseeing the progression of potential successor through ministry, mediatory and mastery phases to the point of them being chosen and appointed as successors. A sacrificial predecessor must be open to the oversight of insiders and outsiders. Those who are normally first and last must be involved for open oversight to operate effectively.
Open oversight is the outworking of the former 7Keys. If predecessors overturn orders to ready replacements using open oversight, they are much more likely to get successors rather than leaders. Open oversight is a key part of the pre-succession process of preparing ready replacements and in appointing successors. Open oversight ensures that candidates have been prepared well in advance as successors. This is similar to the idea mentioned earlier about sending out potential successors to go before their predecessors in spreading the mission and vision of the organisation locally. Open oversight gives feedback from local recipients about a potential successor’s effectiveness in spreading the message, relating positively to locals and preparing them for an incumbent’s visit. Being transparent with candidates about the succession process and clearly noting that others will be involved in making the final decision about the next
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appointment helps keep expectations in check. Being open about oversight and who is going to be doing it is also critical. When potential successors realise that oversight involves outsiders as well as insiders and that those overseers may not be immediately obvious, it becomes much more difficult to seek favours. Having instructors as mentors and guides and predecessors as ‘fathers’ and ‘mothers’ giving open oversight makes for a much more balanced development and assessment of a leader’s potential as a successor. Finally, open oversight can help calm the conflicts that inevitably arise when candidates seeking favour jostle with each other for succession opportunities. This is the topic of the next key. By acknowledging that the sacrificial motives of potential successors are difficult to ascertain, the leader wisely made accountability to others an integral part of his transition. Successional leaders—both predecessors and successors—need to be subject to the open oversight of insiders and outsiders. As outgoing and future leaders respectively, overturning orders, readying replacements and exposing egos according to these rules of open oversight, puts all involved in good stead for more successful successions over the next few generations. It also helps these key stakeholders calm the successional conflicts that inevitably arise. To recap the main points of open oversight and apply them practically, consider doing the following: 1. Intentionally give succession opportunities to candidates from non-managerial fields and include them with managerial people in teams of two. Utilise the advice of outsiders from within and without the organisation to assess and give feedback on candidate successors.
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Involve both outside instructors and predecessors in preparing ready replacements to ensure a balanced assessment of candidate successors is gained.
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“The inevitable outcome of favour seeking is indignation from those who feel unfavourably treated in the process”—The Author
The above statement is self-evident in
successions. Despite the danger, seeking favours in transitions is so tempting that most potential successors cannot resist trying it in some form or another. Amongst leaders—aspiring or experienced—the natural desire to be the greater, larger, elder, stronger is innate and overpowering. Almost without exception, this desire for greatness is at the heart of most succession conflicts. Understandably, there is a natural indignation towards favour seekers caught in the act of seeking favours despite most successors being willing to take these chances. For incumbents caught in these unpleasant situations there is a natural tendency not to deal with these issues at all or to overreact and blow them out of proportion. In this case the leader in the introductory story went to neither extreme. Instead, he used the situation to model and share important truths about successors and successions. By gathering the aggrieved group together to deal with the problem quickly and transparently, the leader understood the need to calm conflicts by dealing with issues of betrayal openly and honestly. Unfortunately many succession conflicts remain hidden and unresolved in transitions. Mark Nadler, Carlos Rivero, Steve Krupp and Richard Hossack describe these tensions well, calling them succession “politics that lurk in the shadows.41” They explain these three main issues in transitions as being political, emotional, and rational.
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Politics relates to the way internal and external stakeholders deal with a succession, the emotional side is about how stakeholders feel about it. The rational side attempts to use objective methods and measures to offset these political and emotional factors. Nadler et al conclude that the most important way of dealing with these transition conflicts is to get the issues out in the open with a disciplined succession Incumbents need to summon process. However by mainly making the courage to proclaim the truth unfalteringly with earnest top leaders accountable, the contention, despite strong involvement of the others, such as conflict and great opposition. the outsiders mentioned earlier, in the process is diminished. This overreliance on top leaders to make successional changes is a common problem in most transitions and one of the main reasons for corporate succession failures. All the 7Keys presented so far in this study contribute to a disciplined succession processes, with one main distinction. The sort of open oversight in a sacrificial succession involves the first coming last and the last coming first. When these orders are overturned, replacements readied and oversight is open, then the ability to calm conflict improves significantly. Because the leader in the introduction had consistently practiced these keys to successful succession during the critical pre-succession ministry phase of preparation, his potential successors were familiar with his open and transparent approach. Incumbents that have not consistently practised transparency with candidates face big challenges when attempting to calm the inevitable succession conflicts using open oversight. Usually incumbents are reluctant to deal with successor disagreements publically by involving the interested parties because they fear further conflict. Instead, this leader skilfully used this conflict situation to calm things down and teach an object lesson. He understood that, by default, doing nothing is a distinct
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disadvantage. Learn to proactively use successor conflicts to your advantage, as this leader did.
Desire for greatness
First, the leader recognised the cause of the conflict and did not hesitate to explain it for what it was. At the heart of all succession conflicts and most other conflicts is the innate, selfish desire for greatness. That is why extroverts, who are usually more adept at promoting themselves and their own agendas, tend to naturally succeed in self-interested successions. The best cure for desires for greatness or delusions of grandeur is a good dose of humility. Hence the salience of the point made earlier about training and assessing successors as ministers prior to and through a leadership position. Next, the leader dealt with the conflict openly and boldly. Incumbents need to summon the courage to proclaim the truth unfalteringly with earnest contention, despite strong conflict and great opposition. Note that successions are the most likely places for contention and strong conflict to occur because the personal stakes are so high. To calm the conflict the leader spoke freely and openly with confidence and assurance. He knew that what he was doing was right. The leader got the aggrieved group together, acknowledged their indignation then Altruistic mediation means used the opportunity to teach an object willingly sacrificing personal lesson. These techniques and tactics leadership aspirations for are an effective strategy for calming the benefit of successors conflict in successions. rather than self. Because at the heart of the conflict was the desire for greatness their leader went on to define greatness by describing the normal authoritarian orders of the day then overturned them. Instead of leaders desiring greatness by mediating a mastery that dominates others, a ministry of service to others mediated by the early sacrifice of leadership and a mastery of advocacy for successors was the alternative.
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This strange alternative is defined by humility and service to others. Sacrificial ministry means subordinating self-interest in favour of others’ interests. Altruistic mediation means willingly sacrificing personal leadership aspirations for the benefit of successors rather than self-promotion. Selfless mastery is staying on to act as successor advocate instead of seeking personal power. In the ensuing 7Keys servant leadership and sacrificial succession will explain each idea more fully. Research confirms this paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will ascribes true greatness42. While high-profile leaders with big personalities may make headlines and become celebrities, good-to-great leaders prove to be self-effacing, quiet, reserved, even shy leaders. These findings confirm this leader’s right focus on ministry being service-orientated rather than selfishly motivated.
Resolve conflict correctly
By dealing with the conflict openly and transparently, the leader followed the correct path for resolving the conflict. He was straight forward yet gracious in his response, knowing that a hurtful or offensive response would only add to the problem. He made clear that sacrificial greatness is about being trusting, lowly, loving and forgiving—everything these aspirants were currently not. The leader personally modelled the correct approach to resolving the conflict by first dealing directly, personally and privately with the two aspirants who approached him directly for succession favour. Because both the favour seekers and the other aspirants also knew about this incident the leader wisely brought all of them together to discuss the conflict. That way, every word could be confirmed and upheld by the testimony of those involved in the conflict. Unfortunately in many succession conflicts precisely the opposite approach is taken. To calm conflicts interactions and decision normally remain hidden hence unresolved. When decisions are made they are often made out of
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context so that stakeholders remain confused about why a decision was made and who made it. Where leadership collectives such as ‘senior management’ are involved these decisions can be particularly perplexing, because of the separation of powers. For example, the common separation between human resource departments and executive management mentioned earlier. Succession and successors decisions are often poorly made and badly communicated. This frequently causes unnecessary conflict between successional contenders. Due to aggrieved parties often being kept separate from the process of calming the conflict, opportunities for object lessons and mutual care are limited. Therefore, whilst conflict may be averted and minimised, potential successors usually learn little from these clashes in terms of dealing fairly with their fellow competitors in future. Hence, as successors become predecessors they pass on this legacy of unresolved conflicts to the next generation of successors and so forth. Instead of doing that, this leader made this conflict situation into an opportunity to teach these potential successors about sacrificial succession. He helped them to focus on the problem of conflict and its solution by training them to always be on their guard and look out for one another. They learned not to be reluctant to deal with these matters publically by involving the interested parties because of fearing further conflict. Consequently, each understood better the need to reprove and forgive the other. Furthermore, they were much more aware than before of the real reason why they were competing with each other and the true meaning of greatness. By calming conflict correctly these successors learned that regardless of the difficulties, they were to be the makers and maintainers of peace in successions not the cause of conflict and crisis. They learned to be gentle and forbearing with one another. Where differences, grievances or complaints against another arose, they learned to readily pardon each other.
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These qualities for calming conflicts put them in good stead as sacrificial successors whilst enabling the incumbent to monitor these potential successors more effectively over a period of time. He could see how they progressed through their ministry, mediatory and mastery phases using these qualities and whether or not their progressions were towards a more sacrificial version of greatness or not.
The ‘Judas’ principle
In the process of calming conflicts the reality is there will always be some potential successors who do not progress towards a more sacrificial version of greatness. Instead they regress into a more selfish and self-interested practitioner who is willing to betray anyone that gets in their way. This rule in successions can be described as the ‘Judas Principle’. Coming from the saying “being a Judas” or betrayer, its origins are said to be from one of the 12 disciple of Jesus, Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him for 30 pieces of silver. As the treasurer of the group, Judas was in a position of power and sometimes abused it by misusing money. He also came to resent Jesus when he realised that the sacrificial kingdom Jesus was building did not support Judas’ vision of earthly power. Be assured that in your life as incumbent you will encounter a ‘Judas’ or two—or three or more—who attempts to betray you and your succession plans. As one of the 12 disciples, Judas was a potential successor of Jesus. He had been prepared as a ready replacement along with the other 11 over a three-and-a-half-year period. Based on these odds, there is a good chance that at least one in 12 of your key leaders or potential successors could also be a Judas. Certainly personal experience confirms this anecdotal evidence. Despite this sacrificial preparation, over time, Judas became more selfish. Therefore, working out how to deal with a Judas in leadership and particularly in a succession is critical. There is a natural tendency in today’s world of quick solutions to try to identify such
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people then fix them up or move them on. Sending them along to counselling and retraining to remove these negative behaviours and replace them with more positive ones is a common ploy. Actually this is not the best approach, especially for a successful succession, because such mental activity usually does not change the person. Instead of trying to fix the person, it may be best to leave them in the position they are in and give them time to change for the better or worse through personal involvement with sacrificial succession projects. During this time their progress—sacrificial or selfish—through the ministry, mediatory and mastery phases can be carefully observed and monitored. The wisdom of this approach is confirmed through the saying variously attributed to Sun Tzu and Machiavelli amongst others: “Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer.” In other words, using another saying: ‘better the devil you know than the devil you don’t’. Interestingly, with Judas, Jesus allowed him to continue in Second, and equally important, his role as treasurer and leader, by having them close, their despite his selfish orientations. progression or regression towards being increasingly Nevertheless, Jesus was open sacrificial or selfish can be more about Judas’ selfish inclinations effectively tracked. and potential as a betrayer. There are two main reasons why this approach is wiser than removing, retraining or hiding potential betrayers. First it keeps a potential ‘Judas’ under the watchful eye of leadership scrutiny, where they are less likely to undermine without some forewarning. Even if they do, interested parties are close by them to deal with them immediately. Second, and equally important, by having them close, their progression or regression towards becoming increasingly sacrificial or selfish can be more effectively tracked. The positive hope is that by a Judas being in close proximity to other successors with sacrificial
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potential they may imbibe some of the good around them and change. Then again, if a Judas isn’t changing they are close enough to be dealt with as quickly as possible as an example to other would-be successors planning similar Judas-like activities. A final truth is that each person has the capacity to be a Judas. That is, each of us—yes, you and me—has the potential and natural tendency to behave treacherously and betray one another. Be aware of a Judas so he or she can be dealt with as described by having sufficient oversight over them and being personally subject to independent oversight. Here is where having open oversight is so critical. Much wisdom is needed when dealing with a Judas or a group of them and having wise heads involved is critical. These same wise heads can also point out any of your personal Judas-like tendencies that need attention.
In transitions, competitions leading to conflicts between successors are inevitable. Neither ‘divide -andconquer’, family favouritism or routine corporate reshuffles genuinely calm conflicts. The former process eliminates opposition and the latter ones incorporate it into leadership. Calming conflicts sacrificially involves rewarding those who are service-orientated and discouraging those with selfish agendas. Having the understanding that wrong desires for greatness are at the heart of all successor competition enables incumbents to reorientate their candidates towards true greatness that is sacrificially inspired. This paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will that defines true greatness must first be modelled by incumbent for it to be taken on by successor. Being open about conflict and dealing with the causes of conflict separately, then bringing together the aggrieved group and those who caused the grievance, helps heal the hurt. By using the opportunity as an object lesson to explain the causes and effects of selfish ministry, mediation and mastery in transitions, helps divert
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attention away from the individuals involved in the conflict to its wider causes and effects on all successors and successions. Recognising that some aspiring successors will inevitably try to betray the cause of a successful succession and act to undermine it gives a good dose of reality. Dealing with a potential Judas by keeping him or her close and monitoring their progress gives a clear indicator as to their potential to change for the better or worse during the life cycle of a transition. Favour seeking in successions is inevitable. Indignant responses from aggrieved parties are unavoidable. The only unpredictable element is the way the conflict is calmed or exacerbated. Calming conflict openly and transparently by incumbent involving the conflicting group works. Most importantly it allows incumbent to model open oversight in the transitional process of readying replacements willing to overturn orders and calm conflict. Calming conflict is the key to opening the next door of avoiding authoritarian motivations in favour of more sacrificial orientations. Without calming this conflict openly, this leader would not have had the opportunity to share this valuable object lesson with those who had just been made personally and painfully aware of the dangers of authoritarianism. Incumbents often miss out on modelling these successional keys because they are not open about succession problems with potential successors. This leads to a particularly sensitive yet vital-to-discuss topic: the need to avoid authoritarianism in successions, the topic of our next 7Keys. Before doing that, it is helpful to recap the main points of this chapter about calming conflicts in successions so they can be applied more practically: 1. Recognise that the root of most succession conflicts is the inherent desire amongst successional contenders for greatness and that the solution is selfless service and sacrifice.
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Understand that to calm successional conflicts correctly requires courage on the part of incumbent to bring together the conflicting candidates and deal with the conflict openly and honestly. Know that a ‘Judas’ or two with the potential to betray you is probably in your midst and that keeping them close and dealing with them openly with oversight is the best solution.
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“Sometimes these self-serving leaders act like barons and other times like benefactors, yet remain authoritarian nonetheless. Instead of being self-serving and seeking power, be sacrificial” – The Leader
In most corporate and dynastic transitions top
leaders authorise a succession and their intermediaries exercise this authority over their subordinates. The many and varied best practices and procedures of Management, the multiple rules and regulations of Bureaucracy, the many layers and lists of Administration contribute to maintaining these structures. This bureaucratic preference for strict rules and established authority, whilst stable, inevitably leads to more authoritarian structures because the most likely successors in such systems tend to be more self-interested than sacrificial. Strong separations of power between ministers, mediators and masters maintain the strength of these orders and sustain their stability. Given their apparent order and sustainability, it initially came as a surprise to these potential successors when their leader explained that these authoritarian structures actually impede the preparation of ready replacements and open oversight. Because of this overreliance on top leadership responsibility to solve problems, a collective capacity to develop innovations throughout an organisation is hampered43. Stable yet change adverse institutions are the outcome. Despite the best efforts of practitioners, these transitions are normally defined by familial or managerial orientations that outwork themselves through dynastic and corporate-bureaucratic successions. Given
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the need to calm conflict that had arisen due successor competition, the leader in the introduction was able to teach these candidates a salient object lesson about avoiding authoritarianism. The authoritarian leadership norms so evident in the behaviour of these succession candidates are no different today. Names and titles may change, yet these natural, selfish motivations for personal greatness lives on in all us. Sometimes these self-serving successors act like barons lording it over their subjects. At other times these selfish successors claim to be benefactors, leading and succeeding for the benefit of their followers. Both types of successor and succession remain authoritarian, nonetheless, because of their self-interest. Rejecting this normal approach to successions, this leader went on to explain a radical alternative of sacrificing successionally at the ministry, mediatory and mastery phases of a transition. By overturning these normal authoritarian orders in successions this leader was modelling an alternative to these potential successors who were being readied for a new form of authority.
Over time, these successors learned that to avoid authoritarianism requires incumbents and successors to be aware of its outworking in leadership transitions. Given that succession is the handover of authority from predecessor to successor, it is worth further exploring some of the forms of authority that emerge in leadership transitions to identify tendencies toward authoritarian and sacrificial successions. In leadership successions it is the handover of managerial authority that is most familiar, with the new manager being appointed as mediator between current masters and ministers. Those in authority enact these sorts of transitions in almost all organisations. The masters, authorise a succession, and their intermediaries, the mediators, exercise this authority over their subordinates the ministers.
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Irrespective of where a succession occurs in a leadership hierarchy: at the top, in the middle or at the bottom, differing succession relationships exist at different levels of an organisation or across the entire firm. The ways that leaders exercise authority is legion, yet there are a number of indicators that show whether they are tending toward authoritarianism or altruism. If their exercise of authority is to act like a baron or benefactor, then ultimately both styles are self-interested. Barons are most obviously those who lord it over their subjects exercising a negative command-and-control headship. They see leadership as a transaction between the leader and the led that gives conditionally to get in return. Benefactors are also transactional, though more subtly so. Their approach is to trade benefits with followers by exercising a more positive influence44. They see leadership as being transformational provided they ultimately get the greater benefit. A third group of successors tends to act as a mediating influence between these two groups by transcending both these styles with a much more collective and consensual approach to leadership. Each of these approaches: transactional, transformational and transcendent is common in transitions.
As rule, however, these different styles of leadership do not fundamentally change the status quo in successions. The reason for this lack of change is that the succession mechanisms governing the transfer of power and authority remain largely the same. Essentially these mechanisms are what mediate a transition and the primary mediatory elements are sacrificial, familial and managerial successions. As explained previously, most succession mechanisms are familial or managerial and occasionally sacrificial in orientation. Their outworking, called “succession outcomes”, depend on the degree to which the succession was sacrificial or selfish. Corporate and
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dynastic transitions are usually strongly authoritarian because they are more self-interested than altruistic. It is vital to understand the importance of succession mechanisms in transitions to fully understand successful successions. Succession mechanisms are primarily dependent upon when and how a succession is mediated during transitional phases. As mentioned earlier, successions that are mediated too early or too late in a transition cycle are unlikely to be successful because of overriding self-interest. Equally, successions that are mediated by selfishness rather sacrifice are unlikely to be sacrificial even if mediated mid-term, because successors will tend to mirror predecessors. Each phase in a transition: ministry, mediation and While revolutionary rather mastery have a distinct task that the than evolutionary change system needs to address. is being sought, its purpose It is worth reemphasising here is not to start a revolution. that throughout this study the emphasis of successful succession is not chaos and disorder. While revolutionary rather than evolutionary change is being sought, its purpose is not to start a revolution. Instead, successful, sacrificial successions are intended to be peaceful not powerful. As Barbara Murray insightfully explains in her review of succession transition processes, evolutionary journeys in successions do not fundamentally change the form of a transition from one generation to the next, whereas revolutionary transitions do45. That being said, all leaders are given the authority and commissioned to look after their own interests and the interests of others in successions. It is how they do it—selfishly or sacrificially—that ultimately counts towards a successful or less successful succession. Hierarchies exist in families and firms because they are the most appropriate forms of authority. For succession to work effectively, each person must submit to these authorities by recognising and respecting them. Having this hierarchal basis for authority does not,
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however, preclude leaders or the led from being aware of these authorities and willing to question their legitimacy. Remember, this was the first point made by the leader in the introduction. It made his disciples aware of the problem of authoritarianism by exposing their desire for succession greatness. As sociologist Max Weber (1864-1920) astutely observed, there are three main types of legitimate authority: traditional, legal-rational and charismatic46. Traditional authority is mainly found in familial dynasties. Legal-rational influences are primarily enacted through managerial authority in corporate bureaucracies. Charismatic authority usually emanates from the power of an individual’s personality and purpose. Indeed, charismatic authority normally acts as a catalyst to start movements. However, by the next generation, clan leaders or corporate managers usually succeed charismatic leaders. As these successors assume ownership of progenitor ideas, the outworking of an original founders vision can become quite different. This natural progression towards corporatisation or autocracy is predictable, as J. Gordon Melton describes well in the introduction to “When Prophets Die: The Succession Crisis in New Religions47.” The only viable alternative to clan, corporate or charismatic authority is service and sacrifice orientated, as the leader in the introduction pointed out. Therefore, the key to understanding succession mechanisms and their implications for successful transitions is to note when and how a succession is mediated. To reiterate, successions that occur too early or late in a transition are usually unsuccessful because incumbents who leave too early or too late in a transition have usually failed potential successors at either end of the successional cycle. For example, predecessors who leave too late in a transition will obviously not have enough time to advocate properly for their immediate or next generation of successors. Conversely, incumbents who leave too
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early understandably will not have been able to prepare enough ready replacements. Thus, the only succession that has real potential for success must occur mid-term or tenure, giving incumbent enough time to: 1) prepare successors presuccession, 2) hand-over leadership sacrificially midtransition, then 3) stay on post-succession as successor advocate. However, even if the timing of a mid-term transition is right, it is unlikely to be successful unless it is also sacrificial. Only by incumbent altruistically preparing sacrificial successors pre-succession, then sacrificially handing over leadership mid-term can a self-interested managerial or familial transition be avoided. See the successional timeline below for tips on when and how to sacrifice successionally in a transition.
Seven-Year Sacrificial Succession Timeline
Phases Predecessor Pre-Succession Years 1-2
Prepares altruistic successors Serves others prior to leadership
Succession Event Year 4A
Appoints successor presuccession Succeeds without expectation
Post-Succession Year 5
Advocates for incumbent with Leadership Prepares altruistic successors
Predicts timing of succession Serves through leadership
Hands over leadership sacrificially Accepts altruistic sacrifice
Readies next generation of successors Predicts terms and timing of succession
Figure 8: Successional Timeline
As a rule, the general consensus is that corporate managerial authority is more stable and sustainable than familial dynastic authority. However, research shows strengths and weaknesses with both systems in successions48. For example, professional managers do tend to handle complex transitions better than their dynastic counterparts. This is primarily due to professionals having better technical abilities. On the other hand, dynastic managers often take a more long-term view of transitions, which their shorter sighted professional counterparts do not do so well. As previously noted, personal, charismatic authority is usually not sustainable beyond one or two generations of
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successor. Therefore, professional managerial authority does appear better suited to economies of scale where size and sophistication are the main factors needed. Alternatively, familial authority seems better suited where agility and adaptability are the primary ingredients required. The fact that family-owned firms are dominant in small-to-medium enterprises and corporations excel in larger scale operations is testament to these succession norms. In reality, though, few successions are exclusively familial or managerial at all organisational levels. Instead, familial ownership may be supported by the managerial oversight of professionals49. Similarly, in corporations, a patriarchal conclave often dominates. Therefore, in practice, a transition of mixed authorities usually occurs in successions. For instance, organisationally, a dynastic succession may occur at mastery level mediated by a corporate succession at managerial level with authority at a ministry level governed by technical skills, for example. See the Succession Frameworks below for a graphical representation of these Succession Orientations and their outworking through successors.
ALTRUISTIC Mastery AUTHORITARIAN
Figure 9: Succession Frameworks
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What these Succession Frameworks reveal is that in most transitions there are two extremes: Altruistic and Authoritarian successions. They are mediated by more sacrificial to selfish successions. These transitions are usually mediated by managerial, familial, transformational and sacrificial successions. Ministry is usually a mixture of practical and educational elements, occasionally combined with a ministry of service and successor preparation. Depending on these combinations mastery is professionally, dynastically or corporately orientated. These succession outcomes are degrees of more or less authoritarian transitions. Occasionally, a transition is altruistic if a succession event occurs mediated sacrificially mid-term by incumbent. In either event a number of important succession rules apply to this succession map: 1. Hierarchal – Mastery in a leadership succession almost always involves a vertical climb up the career ladder, unlike technical and professional expertise that is a more horizontal progression50. In other words, even technical or professional expertise is usually mediated by managerial ability that may require some regression by a technical or professional expert before becoming a corporate master in an organisation. 2. Progressive – With the occasional exception of charismatic technical masters becoming corporate masters, such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, most transitions are progressive (bottom to top, right to left) starting with ministry, mediation then mastery, though there are multiple entry points, some further down the hierarchal ladder, such as practical and service-orientated ministries compared to educational and relational ministries that mediate entry into a transition further up the career ladder. 3. Temporal – When and how a succession is mediated during ministry, mediation and mastery is critical to succession outcomes. Other than in family transitions, if leadership is handed over late in the
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cycle, say towards the end of mastery, then its succession outcome is likely to be authoritarian, even if corporately-orientated. In other words the timing of a succession in a transitions is nearly as important as whether it is sacrificial or selfish. Personal – Ultimately successions are dependent on the people: the masters, mediators and ministers, both in terms of position and personal qualities rather than the effectiveness of succession practices. How successors minister, mediate and master—be it selfishly or sacrificially—most strongly determine succession outcomes.
Applying these rules to the Succession Map helps practitioners track their transitions, successions and successors. These succession pathways note how successors minister, mediate and master in transitions. The succession outcomes are the consequences of ministering, mediating and mastering in successions more selfishly or sacrificially. This Succession Map is built on throughout the rest of this book. The above succession rules and map can be used to compare the transitions of an individual successor or the relationships between successors and successions within organisations or between them. To do this effectively, requires practitioners to be aware of the powers that be and their likely succession outcomes.
Having an awareness of authorities is important as a context for transitions. Understand that different types of professional, managerial, familial, sacrificial and— occasionally technical authority—exist at different levels in an organisation. This understanding is vital for assessing transitions, as the Succession Map explains. Even more critical is an understanding of the probable succession outcomes that authoritarian tendencies bring to successions. This was the main purpose of the leader in the introduction exposing the selfish to sacrificial orientations of his potential
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successors. The lesson for incumbents and successors is to be aware of how self-interested authority works so they can enact sacrificial change. Using the Succession Map, a simple test of these sacrificial to selfish authority structures can be done by posing the five prior successful succession keys as questions. Does this succession authority overturn existing orders or sustain them? Are (sacrificial) ready replacements being prepared as successors? Is this transition open to outside oversight? Are conflicts calmed transparently in successions? If the answer is “no” to most of these questions, then this organisation is privately more authoritarian than sacrificial, no matter how it presents itself publically. Ultimately it is not what is said that counts but what is done that is self-fulfilling. As the namesake of the movie Forrest Gump famously says, “Stupid is as stupid does.” On that simple note, authoritarian to sacrificial succession orientations normally outwork themselves over a number of successive generations of successors. In other words success or failure in successions is usually gradual rather than immediate. When organisations lose focus or fail in transitions, they are primarily influenced by succession outcomes that have altered the style and substance of successors over succeeding generations. For example, in family firms, this factor is evidenced by the gradual increase in succession failures over ensuing generations51. Often this is due to a failure by predecessors to release control or incumbents being resistant to change. Of course, organisations can remain relatively strong and sustainable yet lose their original vision, which is often the case when corporatisation occurs following the replacement of a charismatic founder or predecessor. Therefore, in terms of a successful succession, an organisation may appear to be healthy on the surface, yet be sick inside because they no longer fulfil their intended mission or have conflicting views of it. While this topic is out of scope for this book, it is a relevant input to successful succession.
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Now, some transitions of world-renowned leaders and their succession outcomes are reviewed to demonstrate the pertinence of these successional truths and their consequences. What these findings show, unsurprisingly, is that succession outcomes are most affected by predecessors and successors and their transitions. Some of the pertinent questions to be asked here are: Were these transitions intentional or improvised? Were succession plans communicated publically or privately? Were successors prepared as replacements or reshuffled leaders? Did succession outcomes fail or fulfil incumbent expectations? Applying these questions to the successions of three exceptional and respected leaders, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad, are especially helpful to the study of succession outcomes. Because each was undoubtedly an outstanding leader, determining the success of their successions is especially pertinent here. Each brief case study is dealt with in the chronological order of the times these great leaders lived in history. Buddha is believed to have lived nearly 500 years before Jesus and Muhammad nearly 600 years after Jesus. In the case of Buddha, he apparently planned to hand over his leadership to a “Sangha” collective of senior followers. However given Buddha’s untimely death due to food poisoning attributed to a bad piece of pork52, he apparently did not communicate this decision until on his deathbed53. When Buddha did pass on his last wishes he did so only to his most senior assistant Ananda. Thus, while Buddha had apparently prepared capable leaders, they were not publically aware that they were to be his successors until informed by Ananda after Buddha’s death. Interestingly, as a generational succession outcome most Buddhist successions today tend to be dynastic, despite Buddha’s apparent intention for a more corporate Sangha as his leadership legacy54.
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With Jesus, it appears that he intentionally prepared his disciples as successors over a three-and-ahalf year period. During this time he predicted his upcoming succession on at least three occasions55. Despite his death by crucifixion being untimely from the perspective of his followers, they were well prepared as successors. Jesus’ followers also appeared to readily accept Peter’s appointment as the main successor of Jesus with the open oversight of the other apostles who were also disciples of Jesus. In terms of succession outcomes, it is noteworthy that once the sacrificial legacy of Jesus waned in the leaderships of his successors, Christian successions became increasingly corporatized. Importantly, studies into the rise of corporations as the dominant form of organisation in the western world largely attribute this corporate model to Christendom56. Increasingly, the sustainability of these corporate Christendom structures, both in the church57 and in secular organisations is being questioned, despite their relative stability. Muhammad’s death, too, was untimely, apparently by poisoning. Unlike Buddha, his poisoning is claimed to be intentional either by his family or friends or an enemy. Muhammad’s death, like much of his succession, is surrounded by intrigue58. Did his closest friends and family competing as successors poison him? Did he intend for his most trusted friend Abu Bakr or his next-of-kin Ali, to be his successor? Given these alleged conspiracies it is difficult to conclusively say whether or not Muhammad planned his succession. However, from the historic and ongoing schism between Shiite dynastic followers of Ali and Sunni supporters of Abu Bakr, it is apparent that Muhammad did not make his succession plans publically known to these contenders59. Whether or not Muhammad intended for a family member or a close follower and friend to be his successor, dynastic or divide-and-conquer successions characterise Muslim transitions to this day. What these brief histories of leadership and succession show, is that a great leader is only as good as
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his or her next successor and succession. Pertinently, it only takes a generation or two of selfish successors and successions to undo a predecessor’s great leadership legacy. Sobering isn’t it? Intentionally preparing successors rather than leaders, predicting the timing of transition in a timely manner and handing over leadership sacrificially are the keys to successful succession that are the most obvious conclusions from these brief case studies. Equally obvious should be the conclusion that failing to intentionally overturn orders, prepare ready replacements and predict the timing of a succession well in advance of it occurring is a recipe for disaster and succession crisis.
As these brief succession histories show, avoiding authoritarianism is not easy. All players in transitions have a natural tendency towards self-interest and selfishness unless deliberate action is taken to the contrary. A first step in combating authoritarianism is becoming aware of and open about its existence. The many and varied forms of authoritarianism from the benign oversight of benefactors to the badness of barons are all defined by a preference for strict rules and established authority and for maintaining that status quo. The most likely outcome is a loss of focus over ensuing generations of successors, succession crisis—or worse yet complete transition failure. Remember, even if a business remains financially profitable, a loss of original vision in terms of succession may mean it is no longer successful and heading for ultimate failure. Unsurprisingly, the succession outcomes revealed through the brief case studies of Buddhist, Christian and Muslim transitions prove the negative and positive effects of predecessor and successor involvement. A number of pertinent successional truths about avoiding authoritarianism are revealed through these cases.
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Transitions that are intentional rather than improvised are much more stable and allow for more sustainable successions to continue. Replacements that are prepared in advance to take over and are informed of these succession plans well in advance are less likely to come into conflict with each other. A final question more difficult to answer is whether these succession outcomes failed or fulfilled incumbent expectations? Based on the three case studies reviewed it would seem that in some cases the first few generations of successors may have done as their predecessors expected. However, I suspect that a visit by these predecessors to see the outcomes of their successions today would make most of them rather disappointed in many of their successors and their selfish rather than sacrificial orientations. Becoming aware of authoritarian tendencies is more than knowing about and understanding their selfinterested outworking. Instead, intentional action by incumbent and successors to overturn orders by serving and sacrificing successionally throughout the ministry, mediatory and mastery phases of their transitions is the ultimate key to successful successions. Learning to sacrifice successionally, the last of the seven keys, is presented next as an answer to this vexing question successful successions. Authoritarian tendencies come naturally, as do their self-interested, selfish succession outcomes. To overturn these orders and ready sacrificial replacements takes self-sacrifice by incumbent for successors to a whole new level. The next and last key teaches sacrificial succession to incumbents and successors willing to put this challenging truth into practice by sacrificing successionally. To recap and practically apply these successional truths about authoritarian and altruistic succession outcomes to your organisation: 1. Become more authority aware of the ministers, mediators and masters working in organisations by
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identifying them and their styles of altruistic and authoritarian leadership and succession. 2. Study the succession outcomes of selfish to sacrificial ministry, mediation and mastery using the Succession Rules and Map and applying them to real life successors and transitions. Track real time transitions by creating successor scenarios based on actual cases of successors and their succession legacies in your own personal life and in the life of the organisations you know.
In the next chapter, these succession rules and map will be combined to practically track some transitions, particularly sacrificial ones. More of these specific transitional phases, steps and practices of sacrificial succession will be revealed in this next and final chapter.
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“Just as I have served others rather than myself and give up my leadership sacrificially for you, so too must you make the same sacrifices as my successors” – The Leader
All the previous 7Keys that overturn orders,
ready replacements, expose egos, open oversight, calm conflict and avoid authoritarianism have opened doors that lead to this last key of sacrificing successionally. A sacrificial succession is the genuine outworking of an altruistic ministry orientation through the sacrificial mediation of leadership and mastery of advocacy by incumbent for successor success. Remember the exchange between incumbent and successors in the introduction? Following his object lesson about avoiding authoritarianism in the desire for succession greatness he went on explain its true meaning. He reminded them of the truth that sacrificing successionally is at the Altruistic service and heart of successful succession. sacrifice is one of the most Instead of being self-serving admired of human virtues. Nobody can show greater and seeking power, the leader said love than to lay down their that they should be sacrificial. own lives for their friends. “Altruistically serving others rather than yourselves is the true measure of greatness,” their leader said. Altruism is a willingness to put the interests of others first, without ulterior motives. It is about serving and sacrificing for others without expectation. Altruistic service and sacrifice is one of the most admired of human virtues. People heed the call to sacrifice for clan and country—and to a lesser extent company—through serving others and sometimes by
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paying the ultimate sacrifice with their lives. Nobody can show greater love than to lay down their own lives for their friends. Despite the assumption that people may be more likely to sacrifice for immediate family rather than friends, research actually reveals that it is emotional closeness rather than genetic ties that ultimately determine acts of altruism60. In other words, people are more likely to sacrifice for each other as friends rather than as foes, whether they are family or not. That is why in the armed forces and emergency services mutual camaraderie and trust amongst team members is so vital, because without it sacrifice is less likely. Their shared ordeals of mutual service and sacrifice strengthen their bonds of friendship and potential for sacrifice61. Charles Darwin, the so-called ‘father of evolution’, makes some insightful comments about these sacrificial factors amongst human kind.
“A tribe including many members who, from possessing in a high degree the spirit of patriotism, fidelity, obedience, courage, and sympathy, were always ready to aid one another, and to sacrifice themselves for the common good, would be victorious over most other tribes; and this would be natural selection62.”
Insightful as Darwin’s observations are, altruistic sacrifice does not occur naturalistically, especially amongst leaders. Sacrificial succession is not natural selection. If leadership selections are allowed to occur naturally in successions, then the self-interested, selfish and authoritarian tend to rise to prevail—not the sacrificial. Top leaders are usually considered too important to the business to sacrifice their leadership. Therefore, in natural selections and successions, it is the aspirants who usually make the greater sacrifice to become successors rather than their predecessors. It is only in unnatural selections that leaders intentionally serve potential successor interests pre-succession, sacrifice their leadership for successors mid-term and stay on as their advocates post-succession.
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These three ministry, mediatory and mastery phases modelled in the previous chapters represent the people, positions and processes associated with sacrificial successions. It should already be obvious from anyone involved in transitions that predecessors and successors, more often than not, minister, mediate and master in successions selfishly rather than sacrificially. In these next three sections, the alternative of sacrificing successionally is presented through the Succession Map of ministry, mediation and mastery introduced in the previous chapter and explained through the six 7Keys studied so far. The ways potential successors lead, as ministers, mediators and masters are strong indicators of how they are likely to succeed selfishly or sacrificially in transitions.
Ministry of service
As previously explained, a ministry of service starts when someone is mature enough to realise that serving others can either be selfishly or sacrificially motivated. Observing whether someone tends to serve others with or without selfish expectation is a good starting point because it exposes natural and unnatural succession Sacrificial succession is not and successor orientations. about finding natural Based on these discussions ministers or servants. Instead, it is about building on sacrifice so far, there may appear into potential successors the to be an underlying assumption altruistic character that that the most service-orientated helps them sacrifice leaders serve naturally. Robert K. successionally. Greenleaf (1904–1990) popularly known as the ‘father of Servant Leadership’ confirms this view by saying that servant leadership begins with the ‘natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first’. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead63. On this basis, a ministry of service orientation is an almost unconscious desire to serve followed by the more deliberate phases of mediation and mastery of servant leadership that involves more conscious choice. While
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there is no doubt that some individuals are more naturally altruistic ministers than others, it is not necessarily natural servants that are being sought in sacrificial successions. Note this important distinction between natural servants and unnatural ones, because the latter learn to serve and sacrifice even if they are not naturally inclined to do so. To reiterate, sacrificial succession is not about finding natural ministers or servants. Instead, it is about building into potential successors the altruistic character that helps them sacrifice successionally. Sacrificial successors are trained and learn to be altruistic, irrespective of their naturally selfish orientations. In fact, naturally selected altruistic ministers may not ultimately be the best sacrificial successors, because they tend to serve more instinctively. Those who have learned the hard way to subordinate their wills to the needs of others by serving and sacrificing successionally are preferred in sacrificial successions. For unnatural servants to have a sacrificial orientation at any succession phase is much more about character than personality. Therefore, at the ministry stage, because of its strong influence on mediation and mastery, it is important to judge an aspirant’s succession orientations based on their ministry of service track record. Some practical questions to ask are: Prior to being in leadership did candidates serve with or without expectation? Once in leadership did aspirants minister sacrificially or selfishly through these superior positions? Do they (not) display a willingness to learn from others, particularly those in subordinate positions? Demonstrating the qualities of an altruistic servant, minister and learner during the ministry phase of a succession proves that a potential successor is progressing towards being more sacrificial than selfish. (See the “Seven Qualities of Sacrificial Successors” in the Appendix, for a more detailed explanation of these successional characteristics.) It is necessary to reiterate here that what is being sought through this phase is not natural ministry traits but learned ministry character.
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As such, the aim of the assessment is not to find naturally occurring ministers who serve others. Instead its aim is to monitor a potential successor’s ministry, mediatory and mastery journey through a number of successions that gives them the opportunity to demonstrate that a naturally selfish service orientation is maturing into a more altruistic ministry based on character rather than personality.
Mediatory sacrifice specifically relates to the sacrificial handover of leadership by incumbent for successor success. It is the most important phase of a transition because it bridges the gap between ministry and mastery and should occur around the middle of a transition. An altruistic, mediatory sacrifice should be weighted by incumbent in favour of successor, especially in terms of the timing of the leadership handover. For this to occur mid-term, it is crucial that incumbent has been preparing and choosing altruistic, ready replacements during the pre-succession ministry phase. That way both incumbent and successor are much better placed to enact a sacrificial succession during this mediatory phase. As noted earlier, ideally this presuccession phase should be no less than three-years. During this phase, incumbents should have modelled a sacrificial ministry of service by clearly predicting the timing and terms of a succession. Another important action of a sacrificial mediator is to appoint a successor with a proven track record of ministering sacrificially—with the open oversight of others, of course! It is scientifically and anecdotally well established that leaders who sacrifice for the good of their followers are more transformational than those who don’t64. When leader self-sacrifice is mediated by altruism the benefits are especially valuable for beneficiaries65. Because these studies are predominantly leadership rather than succession focused, there are few findings that show the specific effects of altruistic sacrifice by incumbent for successor success in transitions.
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This section goes some way in providing answers to this question. Mediatory sacrifice is needed mid-tenure following a ministry of altruistic service because postsuccession sacrificial, outgoing leaders need to stay on as successor advocates. If they mediate their succession too late in a transition cycle, then by default they cannot stay as successor advocates. Strangely, this sort of reciprocal mediatory sacrifice mutually benefits both incumbents and successors. For successors, this substitutionary action by incumbents saves them from the pride of self-effort in mediating their own successions. Equally, incumbents learn humility by mediating their leadership ambitions altruistically for It is scientifically and successors and having their mastery anecdotally well defined by post-succession advocacy. established that leaders In the process, each mutually who sacrifice for the good learns to sacrifice for the other more of their followers are more altruistically than selfishly. This is transformational than because the sacrifice of successors is those who don’t. subordinate to the greater substitutionary sacrifice of incumbents for them. The critical success of this key lies in this mutually altruistic sacrifice being othersorientated rather than self-focused. Therefore, while a sacrificial act may be similar in form, say by giving up one’s own life or stoically enduring suffering, selfish sacrifice for one’s own ultimate benefit is inferior to altruistic sacrifice for another without expectation of profit. For instance, religious altruism is obviously expensive because of its great rewards, such as the promise of an afterlife66. Here, the hope of salvation or heaven through personal martyrdom is relevant. Because sacrificing for personal gain is inferior to altruistic sacrifice for the benefit of others, for a succession to be sacrificial, sacrifice must be othersorientated. Herein is found the ultimate power of sacrificial succession. It takes away the pride of selfish sacrifice because selfless sacrifice is always superior.
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Incumbents enacting an altruistic, mediatory sacrifice of their own leadership ambitions mitigates many of the negative effects of selfish successor sacrifice. Two qualities are required here of incumbent: that of being a friend and a substitute. A friend is willing to lay down their life for their friends. Similarly, a substitute is willing to take the place of another. Remember, to sacrifice successionally the emotional closeness of friendship is the catalyst for altruism and a willingness to sacrifice substitutionally its outworking. Together, both qualities work through incumbents and successors to strangely yet powerfully facilitate sacrificial successions. The mutual bond between predecessors and successors who have sacrificed altruistically by voluntarily giving up their right to mediate succession through selfish sacrifice is particularly strong. In a transition, nobody can show a greater sacrifice successionally than to lay down his or her own leadership ambitions for successor success. In a transition, nobody can To be successional, a mediatory show a greater sacrifice phase should take about six months to successionally than to lay down their own leadership a year. An altruistic successor should be appointed at the beginning of this for successor success. period. This phase ends with the sacrifice of leadership by incumbent. However, the mediatory phase at the mid-point of a transition is not normally where leadership is handed over in authoritarian successions. Instead, leadership is handed over, often belatedly during the mastery phase or prematurely in the ministry phase. These untimely transitions are due to succession triggers that include: scandals, vendettas, overstays even deaths67. Incumbents may be proactive or reactive in dealing with these triggers, yet seldom do they sacrifice altruistically during a mastery or ministry phase. Given that research shows many leadership tenures are lasting less than ten years68, enacting sacrificial successions over a seven-year period is realistic and doable. Even if a longer period of time is required,
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the key to it being successional is that the sacrificial handover of leadership occurs mid-tenure during the mediatory phase. In other words, no matter how long a transitional cycle is, sacrificial succession requires leadership to sacrifice mid-term in relation to the total timeline of the succession. This is the main reason why in a sacrificial succession this mediatory phase requires the sacrifice of leadership. The terms are unequivocally sacrificial and the timing is mid-tenure. A mediatory sacrifice of leadership is an integral part of sacrificing successionally because of the mastery of advocacy phase that follows, which is supported by mediatory sacrifice.
Mastery of advocacy
Therefore, to be effective, a mastery of advocacy for successors by incumbent must occur post-succession. However, in most authoritarian transitions, outgoing leaders are replaced at the end of their mastery phase, which in most cases effectively ends their tenure. To sacrifice successionally, an outgoing leader is required to stay on as master advocate for a minimum of three years after a mediatory sacrifice. This sacrificial mastery is about staying on post-succession to teach and remind successors of sacrificial succession and be an advocate for them with leadership. Even though the seven qualities of sacrificial successors mentioned so far of serving, ministering, learning, teaching, befriending, substituting and advocating apply across all three successional phases, the role of advocacy and teaching by incumbent are especially important during this final mastery of advocacy phase. Here, it is important to understand sacrificial succession, as an outworking of genuine servant leadership, is all of these seven qualities applied by predecessors and successors throughout the transition. However, there are certain qualities that are more important at particular times in a transition for predecessor and successors to practice than others. Recall the sacrificial practices required of each practitioner in
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the successional timeline. Post-succession, teaching and advocacy by predecessor are most important because sacrificial, post-succession advocacy by replaced leader is what sets the tone for the next altruistic transition and generation of sacrificial successors. It is this altruistic mastery of advocacy, and the teaching of it, that is most likely to bring about the next round of genuinely sacrificial successions. Given the tendency for incoming and outgoing leaders to be selfish rather than sacrificial, it is understandable that most succession plans discourage or forbid them staying on as part of an exit strategy. Yet research shows outgoing leaders can play a key role in guiding and advocating for newly incumbent leaders69. This is conditional on them being ambassadorial, rather than general-like or kingly authoritarians, for example. Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, in his book “The Hero's Farewell: What Happens When CEOs Retire”, notes that altruistic outgoing leaders are primarily “ambassadorlike70.” Admittedly, this approach to mastery in successions is radically different to the status quo. Hence the need for an altruistic ministry of service followed by mediatory sacrifice that precedes a mastery of advocacy. Normally, succession mastery is about outgoing leaders hanging on to power long enough to ensure that their remuneration is maximised post-succession. Similarly, newly incumbent leaders often start by ministering to mediate a mastery that benefits their tenure. Predictably, these self-interested leadership transitions naturally lead to authoritarian successions. By sacrificing their leadership ambitions early, sacrificial, outgoing leaders become master advocates rather than admirals. In helping to instil these same sacrificial values in newly incumbent leaders and in the next generation of successors, a master advocate is a predecessor preparing at least two generations of successors for a sustainable and successful successional future. The first generation of successor is their immediate replacement and newly incumbent leader.
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Second generation successors are the candidates now in the ministry phase that will potentially replace incumbent. Through teaching and advocating for successors post-succession outgoing leader is achieving altruistic mastery and modelling a successional legacy that should endure for at least two subsequent generations of sacrificial successors and successions. Other than the mediatory sacrifice of leadership, this final stage of altruistic mastery through advocacy is probably the most unnatural even controversial aspect of sacrificial succession. Without it, though, a mediatory sacrifice is like a bridge to nowhere. A pre-succession ministry of altruistic service and post-succession mastery of advocacy are both needed for a mediatory sacrifice to work effectively as a bridge between the two.
Sacrificing successionally is never easy because it requires both incumbents and successors to respectively substitute and subordinate their selfish leadership ambitions for sacrificial ones. Paradoxically, both benefit from the process by mutually learning to sacrifice personal leadership ambitions through sacrificing for the other. This is the latent and strange power of sacrificial succession that challenges naturalistic selections. On this basis alone, remuneration may need to be radically different than it is now to support sacrificial succession. Current rewards focus on what incumbents temporally achieve during the job, whereas with a sacrificial succession outcomes are measured by the quality of successors after the fact. This approach is radically different to the unsuccessful and unsuccessional succession case studies reviewed. Difficult is not impossible. For example, by holding remuneration and rewards in trust until a judgement can be made about the quality of successors, post succession, transitions can become much more sacrificial. Rewarding predecessors and successors in transitions for a altruistic ministry of service, mediatory sacrifice and mastery of advocacy will
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go a long way to encouraging sacrificial rather than selfish orientations in successions. Based on our specific study of sacrificial successors and successions in this chapter, it is helpful to repopulate the Succession Map with sacrificial succession in mind. See the Succession Map below that describes multiple ministry, mediatory and mastery options.
Horizontal Succession Map Autocratic Familial 3 4 Mastery 5 Corporate 6 Managerial Dynastic 7 6 5 Educational Ministry Transformational Mediates Professional Mastery Technical 4 3 2 1 Vocational Service Ministry Practical Horizontal
Al tru ist
it or ar n ia
Sacrificial 1 2
3 4 5 6 7
Figure 10: Sacrificial Succession Map
This succession map tracks potential successor orientations and successor pathways from ministry to mastery. Unsurprisingly, it shows that there are successors who are more naturally inclined to minister, mediate or master selfishly or selflessly. Based on this map, the outcome of self-interested successions are always more authoritarian than altruistic. Remember the principle that ministry mediates mastery, because this rule defines the three main orientations—corporate, dynastic or sacrificial—that successors take in successions. Normally successors follow an educational ministry pathway towards a transitional mastery mediated by managerial or familial succession orientations.
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Occasionally technical / professional expertise can contribute to succession mastery71. More often than not, however, one of the two succession orientations mentioned above mediates successions to mastery. Succession outcomes from a managerial pathway usually result in a corporate transition, whereas a familial path makes a dynastic transition more likely. The degree to which a transition is authoritarian relates to the strength of its self-interest practitioners: predecessors and successors. These strengths and weaknesses are signified by the vertical numbers on the left (altruistic) and right hand (authoritarian) sides of the map along with the horizontal numbers on the top. Adding the horizontal and vertical numbers intersecting a particular field helps determine how authoritarian a succession may be. Note that some familial successions may be less authoritarian than corporate No sacrifice by successors successions due to a sacrificial matches the succession yet remain autocratic substitutionary sacrifice by nonetheless due to successors being incumbents in giving up their leadership ambitions limited to next-of-kin. Another key mitigating factor to for successor success. note is when a succession is mediated during a transition. As mentioned earlier, the rule is that the later a succession is mediated in a transition during a mastery phase the more likely it is to be authoritarian. Again, the only exception to this rule is found in dynastic successions because in families predecessors sometimes hand over leadership early to stay on post succession72. For obvious self-interested reasons, this sort of dynastic succession, though altruistic, cannot really be considered sacrificial. Not all authoritarian successions are brutal. In fact many, if not most, leadership transitions are benign, yet authoritarian nonetheless. Nevertheless, there is only one major alternative to selfish transitions. It is sacrificial succession, the strange yet logical conclusion of altruistic leadership. What ultimately makes altruistic servant or transformational leadership seminal, especially for the
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next generation of successors, is a sacrificial succession by incumbent for successor success. If genuine altruistic service is the cause, then sacrifice should be the effect. Strangely, it is the sacrifice by incumbent for successor that enacts the most powerful transition of all— sacrificial succession. No sacrifice by successors matches the substitutionary sacrifice by incumbents in giving up their leadership ambitions for successor success. Instead of a succession being mainly about a self-serving ministry, selfish mediation and powerful mastery, these same succession phases can be more about an othersorientated ministry of altruistic service, mediatory sacrifice and mastery of advocacy. Sacrificial succession is the strange, yet logical outworking of altruistic leadership in transitions. In successional terms, sacrificial succession gives altruistic leadership its currency. Similar to a coin needing both sides inscribed to be legitimate, altruistic leadership is legitimised when succeeded by sacrificial succession. To practically apply sacrificial succession to a leadership transition requires the following base formula mentioned earlier: ministry x mediates x mastery. For a sacrificial succession to occur the formula needs to be built upon as follows: (altruistic) ministry x mediatory (sacrifice) x Similar to a coin needing both sides inscribed to be mastery (of advocacy) = a sacrificial succession. legitimate, altruistic Using this base formula, leadership is legitimised when succeeded by succession and successor assessments sacrificial succession. should be conducted within and over the lifetime of at least three transitions. This assessment can be made at organisational, interpersonal and personal levels based on three key succession indicators: 1) Strength of direct versus indirect Succession Relationships between incumbents and successors, 2) Degree to which Successor Orientations are sacrificial or selfish and 3) Trend of Succession Outcomes being more sacrificial or selfish over the lifetimes of these transitions.
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In conducting such a successional assessment a transitional timeline similar to the one in Figure 6 could be used to ask the following questions: Past – How was the last successions enacted? Present – How is a current succession being conducted? Predictive – How sacrificial is the next succession likely to be based on present and past successions? Comparing this timeline gives a generational picture of transitions and their likely outworking as succession outcomes. Each of these three succession indicators (strength, degree and trend) should start being applied during the pre-succession ministry phase of successor preparation. A particular focus on the mediatory succession event itself is crucial, because it bridges ministry and mastery. How mastery was mediated, with special attention on the occurrence of post-succession mastery and if it was sacrificial or self-interested is critical. Especially for sacrificial succession, particular attention needs to be paid to the sacrificial to selfish characteristics of successional candidates during each transitional phase: ministry of service, mediatory sacrifice and mastery of advocacy. Equally important is the process of monitoring incumbents serving as ministers, sacrificing as mediators and advocating as masters for successors. Comparing these three sets of data at one time and over a period time facilitates triangulation and helps in identifying relationships between these elements. Observe these sacrificial to selfish succession orientations that outwork as altruistic to authoritarian trends in leadership transitions. Some of the tools available for practitioners willing to enact a sacrificial succession are: 1. Organisational Succession Audit 2. Personal-Interpersonal Assessment 3. Sacrificial Succession and Successor Map Each of these tools can be accessed and used by visiting: www.successfulsuccession.org and by purchasing the Successful Succession Pack©, which includes these assessment tools and an explanation of
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how to apply and assess each of these three Sacrificial Succession steps in more detail.
In closing, it is worth remembering the words of the leader in the introduction: “Just as I have served others rather than myself and give up my leadership sacrificially for you, so too must you do the same as my successors.” This leader lived out a ministry of service, mediatory sacrifice and a mastery of advocacy that proved the authenticity of his sacrificial leadership and succession credentials to and through his successors. These successors learned that the genuine outworking of altruistic leadership is sacrificial succession. His greatest gift to his successors was a mediatory sacrifice A willingness by incumbent of leadership and mastery of to sacrifice altruistically advocacy specifically for their for successor success is the success. Because these successors master key. had experienced first-hand successional sacrifice by their predecessor, they were well prepared as sacrificial successors to do the same. Each successor had observed the seven keys to successful succession lived out through their predecessor. Overturning orders, readying replacements, exposing egos, being open to oversight, calming conflict, avoiding authoritarianism and sacrificing successionally was second nature to them despite it being against their human natures to do so. It was their leader’s successional legacy gifted sacrificially to them. These 7Keys to Successful Succession, the title of this book, are available to all incumbents and successors who are willing to sacrificially play their parts. Sacrificial Succession is difficult because it counters selfish human nature, yet is strangely rewarding. Perhaps Jesus the Messiah best captures altruistic leadership and sacrificial succession in one of his most famous statements: “Greater love has no one than this: that someone lay down his life for his friends73.”
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This is the essence of sacrificial (leadership) succession and the final door through which a sacrificial successor walks who genuinely uses each of these 7Keys. A willingness by incumbent to sacrifice altruistically for successor success is the master key. Learning these seven keys is a work-in-progress. As the author of this book, I feel a weight of responsibility in not having all the answers and falling far short of being a sacrificial successor myself. In spite of these personal failings, I am compelled to write what I am learning even if it is an incomplete work-in-progress on my part. In the process of learning more about sacrificial succession, I look forward to doing it together with like-minded people like you. Because you have taken the time to read this book and mull over its succession implications, I am certain that, together, we can progress the cause of sacrificial successions that result in more successful successions. Thank you for taking the time to read what I have written. May your next succession be sacrificial and successful! Paul Rattray
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1. Seven keys to successful succession
1. Overturn Orders – Incumbents must put the last first by sacrificing their self-interest in a succession specifically for the success of their successors.
2. Ready Replacements – Directly prepared by incumbent as successors pre-succession by being made aware of the timing and terms of the transition well in advance of it occurring. 3. Expose Egos – Identify selfish ‘sacrifice’ by rewarding altruistic service and sacrifice by potential successors through projects that reveal these succession orientations. 4. Open Oversight – Involves the authority of both internal and external leaders who have a stake in the transition so that a balanced decision can be made about potential successors. 5. Calm Conflict – Transparent and open conflict resolution involves using the offence as an object lesson to teach both offending and offended parties about sacrifice. 6. Avoid Authoritarianism – Change from managerial and familial transitions into sacrificial successions that put sacrificial ministers, mediators and masters first. 7. Sacrifice Successionally - Just as incumbent serves successors rather than self and gives up leadership sacrificially for them, so too must successors make these same sacrifices for their successors
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2. Seven steps to sacrificial succession
The Seven Steps to Sacrificial Succession
Details: 1. Ministry of preparation (3½ years)
á Prepare and choose sacrificial ministers as candidate successors. á Clearly predict the timing and terms of a succession to potential successors. á Appoint a successor with a track record proving a willingness to minister sacrificially.
2. Mediatory sacrifice (six months)
á Confirm incumbent’s altruism outweighs that of successor by a greater sacrifice. á Ensure incumbent sacrificially hands over leadership mid-tenure and mid-transition.
3. Mastery of advocacy (three years)
á Stay on to teach and remind next generations of successors about sacrificial succession. á Master by advocating with leadership for incumbent and successor success.
3. The seven qualities of sacrificial successors:
SERVANT - Personally serves others first without expectation by willingly coming last. Servants do not anticipate succeeding to any position other than servanthood by serving others and servanthood is an end in itself not a means to leadership. MINISTER - Advance the interests of others before personal gain through a leadership position. Ministers serve wholeheartedly through active submission to others and doing good to benefit others, especially subordinates, through their leadership positions. LEARNER - Teachable and willing to learn from others especially subordinates. Learners have a readiness of mind and zeal to search out, inquire after, examine and judge information actively rather than passively. TEACHER - Models and makes known to students everything they have learned from their predecessors. Teachers actively and directly model sacrificial qualities to successors throughout a leadership transition.
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FRIEND - Act as a companion by involving students in personal life and work. Friends show genuine affection for their comrades, act sacrificing, expect nothing in return and are willing to sacrifice for their friends. SUBSTITUTE - Intentionally hands over leadership sacrificially for the success of successor. Substitutes act sacrificially for the sake of others. Their willingness to figuratively and literally lay down their lives for their friends is the best example of this quality. ADVOCATE - Continue to advocate for successor interests even after being replaced. Advocates assist and sometimes plead the case of successors with leadership and remind successors, particularly newly incumbent leaders, about what they have learned and keep them accountable in continuing a sacrificial succession.
To apply these Seven Keys to Successful Succession in your organisation contact: PaulRattray@CVC.tv.
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