The table below summarises changes in thinking about succession planning since the 1970s. It is based on research largely within the corporate sector; higher education is in a different place and the characteristics of the 1970s box will look familiar to some of us!
|Focus on||The very top roles - job-specific requirements||Range of leadership roles for organisational goals||Pools for strong leadership teams|
|Based on individuals’…||Experience and technical expertise||Experience and competencies||Competencies that define potential for top leadership|
|Timescale of planning||Now||6-12 months ahead||5-10 years ahead|
|Role of future leaders||To provide smooth continuity||Strategic planning||Responding to and leading change|
|Identified via…||Judgment of CEO - 'heir apparent'||Assessment by top team||Assessment by line manager, peers, top team|
|What happens after assessment||Wait||Leadership development course||Tailored development including job moves|
|Transparency||Secret||Secret||Agreed template of competencies; feedback to individuals|
Of course, the sector's accumulated knowledge on succession is always increasing and moving forward. To show how thinking in this area has progressed even in the last few years, we have reproduced here what the Leadership Foundation itself said about succession in 2005. As a historical document it may make an interesting comparison with the content of these pages.