Nowadays, corporate secretaries are often tasked with finding the right candidate to fill a position on the board or in the legal department. But finding a capable professional to steer a company through a treacherous time can be a hassle. And relying on the current incumbent to choose his or her replacement is a common mistake, which can lead to even more problems.
According to a recent report from business research firm Cutting Edge Information, maintaining the status quo can be another major challenge when developing succession plans. In fact, relying on the current jobholder to choose his or her replacement is another common mistake that firms make.
‘Leadership stems from vision and execution,’ says Michelle Vitko, research analyst and an author of the study. ‘A succession plan that does not factor in a corporate vision will suffer from inertia. Companies will continue to hire or promote leaders who fill the same roles as their predecessors without advancing toward new goals.’
The study, called ‘ Succession planning: preparing tomorrow’s leaders,’ also found that most effective succession plans strike a balance of objective criteria and subjective judgments about a candidate’s ability to take the organisation further, the study says. Top companies, such as Deustche Bank, General Electric, IBM, McDonalds and PricewaterhouseCoopers, among others, focus on candidates with greater breadth and depth of experience rather than those with industry-specific skills.
What about replacing a corporate secretary?
As with any key executive position, your company should have a succession plan for corporate secretaries. When you retire, for instance, will your company be ready to continue moving forward?
‘I believe that succession planning for senior positions in any organisation plays a vital role in achieving consistent, long-term success,’ Fred Krebs, former president of the Association of Corporate Counsel previously told Corporate Secretary. ‘Succession planning requires careful thought and deliberation about what the organisation needs and how to fulfil those needs.’
When it’s time to replace a corporate secretary, or any boardroom role, a company’s needs tend to be specific because of the sensitive nature of such positions. It is essential to prepare both for expected and unexpected leadership attrition, the study confirms.
[Article by Aarti Maharaj, Corporate Secretary]