Leadership Taboo: Replacing Your Senior Statesmen – Nu Leadership Series

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven”
Ecclesiastes 3:1

I don’t mean to alarm you. But—we are going to discuss a very painful subject to many people. My discussion involves an organizational taboo. Many institutions refuse to conduct leadership succession planning because they don’t want to offend anyone (the charismatic founder or his potential replacement). Can any great organization exist after the death of its visionary founder? At the death of a distinguished leader, most organizations are left in chaos. Sanders, the author of the Spiritual Leadership, maintains, “We sometimes demean God by thinking that the death of a great leader takes God by surprise, or sends God into emergency action.” Why don’t these celebrated leaders adequately prepare their replacements? Everyone knows that a leader can’t live forever; however, many organizations avoid this topic. This is a fatal organizational mistake.

Let’s explore this matter further. Sugarman, another leadership guru, maintains that a dynamic leader guides his team, and does not control it. Good leaders deal with the realities of living (you live—you die). Morris, the author of The Christian Leader, argues that “fear of competition from followers” as a negative trait of a bad leader. I’ve seen ministers who are fearful of their church leaders and make no attempt to develop them. These leaders have no foresight and fail to mentor others for leadership. Members should know better, but don’t act. If these leaders are truly concerned about their organizations, they should prepare future leaders by implementing a succession planning process.

Succession planning involves mentoring for the future. Chip Bell, a mentoring expert, defines mentoring as the “act of helping another learn.” Throughout the Bible, you can see people being prepared for future leadership. In the Book of Exodus, Moses is found preparing Joshua for the hard times ahead. A great leader is difficult to replace. Don’t wait until this leader is dead to consider a replacement. Get prepared for future leadership changes. Start today!


Bell (2002). Managers as Mentors. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler’s Publishers, Inc.

Morris, C. (1983). The Christian Leader. Printed in the United States: PhilBEST

Sanders, J. (2005). Spiritual Leadership. Chicago, IL: Moody Press.

Sugarman, K (2000). Leadership Characteristics. [Online]. Available: http://www.psywww.com/sports/leader.htm.

© 2006 by Daryl D. Green