Lessons from the Catholic Church: Succession Planning?

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By: Center For Worklife - Expert Reviewer

Lessons from the Catholic Church: Succession Planning?

Champ Rawls of The Rawls Group in Orlando, FL makes a good case for the correlation between Catholic Church leadership and succession planning. With Pope Benedict’s recent decision to step down, Rawls draws attention to the striking similarities between the responsibilities of the Pope and of a business leader. From leading others, to driving the direction of the organization and the overall process of succession planning in a business organization, we agree that there are definite points of discussion.

The leadership success of the church goes far beyond the abilities of the Pope and speaks to the church’s succession planning traditions and organizational capabilities. Keeping with the leadership model of the Catholic Church in mind, below are some tips for positive succession planning.
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Table of Contents

3 Tips for Organizational Succession Planning:

1. Are you recruiting people that are true to your mission?
Clearly the Catholic Church is built on strong beliefs and values. Businesses should be no different. Only hire people that are passionate about the needs your organization fills. Those are the individuals you want filling key roles in the future.

2. Never rush your prospect leaders into their roles and also within their roles after election.
Rawl points out that time and experience are key to creating strong leaders. This is very applicable and true to church leadership. Each Pope was once a Cardinal and previous to that filled some other leadership role.

However in business organizations, many times depending on industry in question, experience is not necessarily measured by time spent in that organization or industry for that matter. With the advent of technology and education, many leaders are now selected on skills beyond their technical expertise but rather their people skills and emotional intelligence such as performing under pressure.

3. Succession planning should be in line with clear policies and procedures.
As mentioned above, the Catholic Church is known for its long lasting structure and traditions. There is something to be said for the establishment of clear leadership standards and procedures. This of course doesn’t mean to avoid relearning the guidelines necessary for growth and innovation.

Above all, as portrayed nicely by the incoming Pope Francis during his speech last Saturday, it takes followers to lead; “With Blessing, Pope shows an openness to other Faiths.” Regardless of whether one is elected or brought to succession by influence, the people’s blessing is a prerequisite for success.

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