The 2023 NFL postseason gave us a clear example of what it looks like when a team doesn’t have a backup. Dallas Cowboys continued to use kicker Brett Maher in games, even though he missed not one or two extra points, but a total of four extra points in the Cowboys’ wild card game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
If your financial institution doesn’t have a strong CEO succession plan, it could wind up feeling like the Dallas Cowboys with no options to move forward. There are many parallels between a backup quarterback who is ready and a strong CEO successor.
Recruit Next-Generation Talent
Championship teams recruit talented players for each position. In addition, they recruit the next generation of players. The quarterback knows that there is someone ready to take over his position when he graduates or becomes unexpectedly injured. The backup trains his skills with the expectation that he will one day surpass the current quarterback.
Create Opportunities to Practice Leadership
Backup players are trained, mentored and given the opportunity to practice their skills and leadership. When a team with a talented depth chart fails to designate the backup quarterback, the team is not ready to follow when one of the backups steps in. Talent is not enough. Practice is not enough. The team needs to be ready to follow the next leader. Teams can absolutely have more than one candidate for the backup position, but at some point before the season, they need to make a decision on the depth chart.
Work Together for the Greatness of the Team
The relationship between the quarterback and the backup is strong. They work together for the success of the team. Backup preparation, coupled with clear communication, prepares the entire team for the next generation of leadership — whether that time comes in three years or in an instant.
Three Steps to Cultivate Backup Readiness
The backup needs to be ready now, while having the confidence to wait for graduation or retirement. When a team extends a transition timeline in college football, we see players jumping in the transfer portal and playing for a competitor. The same is often true in CEO succession planning. Holding to your timeline helps retain your backup.
2. Position Profile.
Look at your organization chart for your institution today and understand what is needed for each position in the next five years. Create a position profile that combines a job description with what the business will look like at the point of succession. Make sure your bank’s backup options have, or are building, the skills and experiences they will need to align with where the business will be at the point of succession.
3. Assess Your Talent
Much like a wide receiver can move to play safety, your institution needs to find strong talent to fill key position to lead into the future. Use a comprehensive assessment that profiles leadership potential and identifies development opportunities that allows for your “best athletes” to move into a range of roles.
When your bank needs a succession plan or depth chart, follow the example of championship football teams. Understand the timeline, then match the skills of your players with the demands of your organizational chart. A third party can be useful in helping to assess and plan for the future team.