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"Succession: Are You Ready? (Memo to the CEO)"

"Succession: Are You Ready? (Memo to the CEO)", by Marshall Goldsmith, February 2009, Harvard Business School Press; ISBN: 1422118231



Marshall Goldsmith’s book, Succession: Are You Ready? is an edition of the Harvard Business ‘Memo to the CEO’ series.

This book is written in the form of a series of memos to the CEO of a major company, and delves into the human side of the executive succession process. Dr. Goldsmith builds upon his 31 years of experience as an executive advisor to the world’s leading corporations and shares ‘real world’ examples of the challenges and opportunities in top management transition. While the book is written as letters to a fictional CEO, the learnings apply to leaders at all levels – who are faced with the prospect of either letting go or developing their successor.

Kevin Kelly, CEO of Heidrick & Struggles, reviews Succession: Are You Ready?

"... First of all, Succession: Are You Ready? is succinct. It is a short read (one to two hours), and it talks to me about how to leave my firm in good shape.

The scope of the book is explained carefully upfront: how CEOs should prepare themselves and their organisation for the challenge of succession.

The author also explains what the book is not. ..." more

A “handbook” in every sense, the latest offering from leadership authority Marshall Goldsmith is a compact field guide to letting go, gearing up, and passing the baton. Tailored toward CEOs and entrepreneurial leaders, Succession is a conversational collection of “memos” that focuses more on behavioral guidelines for transitioning leaders, and much less so on strategy and logistics.

Goldsmith begins with a section titled “Preparing Yourself”—a one-on-one narrative offering advice on dealing with letting go and moving ahead into life after the C-suite. Goldsmith’s years of work with CEOs of all stripes provides a solid backdrop here, though the writing refrains from lapsing into case studies or name dropping. The tone throughout, in fact, is persistently personal.

The bulk of the book contains memos on effectively choosing successors and becoming a CEO coach. These sections, too, stay true to the behavioral components behind succession planning and include detailed guidelines for involving and working with key stakeholders, evaluating successors, and following through both during and after the transition.

Juana Llorens ASTD T+D magazine March 2009


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