Leadership success is determined by the effectiveness of your succession. If your leadership dies with you, you have failed.
According to Dr. Myles Munroe, the goal of leadership is the successful passage of power. But passing on power cannot just be done to anyone. Jesus Christ, the greatest leader that ever lived, didn’t just pass on the leadership of the church to any person.
He first ran a test to determine who would be the best fit. This 7-step test of choosing a successor is what I’ll be sharing with you.
What Does the Bible Say About Succession?
Succession is the effective transfer, conveyance, and transition of a leader’s purpose, vision, passion, intent, character, standard, values, morals, and qualities to a new generation of leaders. It is the perpetuation of purpose.
Some examples of succession that took place in the Bible are
- The transfer of leadership from Moses to Joshua
- The transfer of leadership from Eli to Samuel
- The transfer of leadership from Elijah to Elisha
- The transfer of leadership from Jesus to Peter
Let’s take a look at the last.
After Jesus resurrected and was about to transfer the leadership of the church to another person all He asked Peter was if Peter loved Him (John 21:15-23).
He was saying in essence, “I can only hand over all of these to you if I’m sure you love me.”
This was something that surprised even Peter. He was surprised and asked Jesus why he didn’t choose John since John was closest to Jesus (vv 20-22). But a good successor is not someone the leader loves the most, but the one who loves the leader the most.
How to Choose A Great Successor
1. Choose someone who loves you above your vision
Visions do not always remain the same. As you continue to progress in life and as the organization evolves, the vision will become clearer to you and changes must be made.
Someone who only loves the vision will not stand when the organization evolves from the vision they love. But if they love you above the vision, they will stick no matter the changes because their commitment is to you.
Also, when the vision is taking longer than expected to manifest, someone who loves you won’t get discouraged because their commitment is beyond the beauty of the vision.
2. Choose someone who loves you above your gifts
Someone can claim to love you (not your vision) but still only love what you carry. They love the way you speak, and they love how well you carry the team along, but that is all.
If someone loves only your gift, they will commit to something else or someone else that has better gusts than you. If their commitment is to only what you carry, leaving the organization in their hands becomes dangerous in your absence because the object of their commitment is now absent.
You will want to leave the organization to someone who will remain committed in or out of your presence.
3. Choose someone who loves you above your power
If what they love is your power, they might not even wait for a successful succession; they might just kick you out and get it.
People who love power can be very dangerous. They can do anything to get it and once they get it, they become out of control.
Their obsession with power is proof that there is a level of exertion they would like to display but don’t have enough power to do. Therefore shouldn’t be surprised at whatever someone obsessed with power does after they get it.
4. Choose someone willing to protect and defend you at their expense
Now we are considering the proof of real love. When someone loves you, they will seek to keep you in power. They will seek to protect your reputation and the success of your leadership. And they will do this even in your absence.
This way, you can trust the perpetuation of your vision.
A great successor is someone who finds a sense of purpose in preserving the purpose of his predecessor. He sees it as a responsibility to finish what you started and ensure it endures.
Peter fought with a soldier to protect Jesus.
5. Choose someone ready to die (to their ambitions and give things up) for you
Peter told Jesus, “we have left all things and followed you” (Mark 10:28). The continuity of your vision requires that someone treats it as their only vision, just like you did.
If your successor sees the vision as an added responsibility to the many things they have on their table, they are not a great choice. They must be able to give up other ambitions and desires for the pursuit of your vision.
This must also be evidenced while you are still in power. Whatever good they can not do while you’re around, they will not do after you’re gone.
6. Choose someone who will risk themself for your benefit
Peter followed Jesus after He was arrested by the soldiers, even to the inner chambers where Jesus was kept. This was someone who had just cut the ear of a soldier and should be hiding.
He went through that risk because he loved Jesus.
A great successor must be able to risk themself for you. If someone is always trying to protect their reputation and exempt themself when the organization is facing challenges, they will deny the organization after you are gone.
But if they can risk being hated by others and risk losses, they will commit after you are gone.
Why Choose Someone Who Loves You As A Successor?
- One who loves you will love what you love (e.g the vision and organization)
- One who loves you will love who you love (they won’t betray your family or staff)
- One who loves you will protect what you love
- One who loves you will value what you love
- One who loves you will preserve what you love
While still in power as a leader, you must identify several mentees and begin to train them for succession. A great leader begins to plan their exit from their first day in office.
Among your mentees, you should also begin to identify the one that genuinely loves you. That one will make a great successor because you have trained them, they have the skills and their love for you will guarantee the perpetuation of your purpose.
Read Next: 7 Biblical Steps To Choose A Great Mentor
Olusegun Iyejare is a career coach and certified counselor. He helps individuals discover and maximize their potential to live satisfying lives regardless of obvious limitations holding them back.