Leadership and career

10 Ways to Tie a Strong Strategy to an Equally Strong Succession Plan

By April 5, 2017 No Comments

In Henry IV Part 1, Owen Glendover, the leader of the Welsh rebels, joins the insurrection against King Henry. Glendower, a man steeped in the traditional lore of Wales, claims to command great magic. Therefore, mysterious and superstitious, he sometimes acts in response to prophecies and omens. In the play, Glendover boasts to Hotspur, “I can call the spirits from the vastly deep.” Hotspur deflates Gelendover with, “Why, so can I or so can any man; But will they come when you call them?”

Any business owner or senior leader can call the same spirits of strategy from the vastly deep, but business outcomes tattle. They tell us that too often the spirits don’t come. Or, they come, but no one knows what to do with them once they’re there. Successful leaders realize they can’t command magic, but they can create a magical alchemy to turn the raw materials of a strategy into gold and then tie the succession plan to it. Here’s how:

  1. Model integrity.
  2. Make decisions that translate the strategy into implementation realities.
  3. Serve as an avatar for marrying espoused and operational beliefs.
  4. Actively and unfailingly develop the bench, not just one’s immediate direct reports.
  5. Give constructive feedback to aid in this development — and not just at performance review times.
  6. Spend your days doing arson investigations — not putting out today’s fires.
  7. Constantly and consistently evaluate today’s tactics in terms of tomorrow’s results.
  8. Show a willingness to sacrifice short-term gains in favor of long-term success.
  9. Create an environment capable of generating intellectual capital and creative decisions.
  10. Articulate values, frame reality and hire role models for others.

Confucius called leaders “dealers in hope.” Successful modern-day leaders know they must heed the counsel of the ancient Chinese philosopher and eschew the advice of Glendover. Strong leaders create meaning, vision and trust. They don’t need magic because they understand the words of legendary hockey player Wayne Gretzky, “You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.”


Dr. Linda Henman is one of those rare experts who can say she’s a coach, consultant, speaker, and author. For more than 30 years, she has worked with Fortune 500 Companies and small businesses that want to think strategically, grow dramatically, promote intelligently, and compete successfully today and tomorrow. Some of her clients include Emerson Electric, Boeing, Avon and Tyson Foods. She was one of eight experts who worked directly with John Tyson after his company’s acquisition of International Beef Products, one of the most successful acquisitions of the twentieth century.

Linda holds a Ph.D. in organizational systems and two Master of Arts degrees in both interpersonal communication and organization development and a Bachelor of Science degree in communication. Whether coaching executives or members of the board, Linda offers clients coaching and consulting solutions that are pragmatic in their approach and sound in their foundation—all designed to create exceptional organizations.

She is the author of Landing in the Executive Chair: How to Excel in the Hot Seat, The Magnetic Boss: How to Become the Leader No One Wants to Leave, and contributing editor and author to Small Group Communication, among other works.

Dr. Henman can be reached at linda@henmanperformancegroup.com.