Succession Planning for Academic Leaders

There are several reasons why every academic leader should have a succession plan. First, although it’s unpleasant to think about, we’re all mortal. If something terrible should happen and we should die suddenly or be incapacitated by an injury or illness, someone will need to be prepared to fill in until a long-term replacement can be found. Second, we limit our own potential for promotion when we appear to be indispensable in our current positions. If our supervisors can’t imagine anyone else doing our jobs, it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to imagine us doing any other job as well, including the one we might really want. Third, colleges and universities are more than just the people who work for them. We’re temporary residents at an institution that existed before we arrived and will continue to exist after we depart. We therefore owe it to the organization to think in terms of its ongoing needs and not solely in terms of our relationship to it.

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