Succession planning is a proactive process of identifying and developing subordinates at all levels for future managerial roles and leadership positions in an organisation. It is a critical and strategic component in any company management however the exercise is often neglected by even major corporations.
It is often perceived that succession planning is centred on identifying potential replacement of retiring or resigning top echelons in the company. Instead the process is a strategic management exercise to ensure a ready pool of employees adequately developed to take on higher positions and responsibilities at various company hierarchies when required.
More skewed perceptions are amongst many family owned small and medium enterprises where succession planning is understood as to choose among the heirs to inherit the leadership. Little consideration is given to the importance of assessing the heir’s ability to lead and to drive the company to greater height. Many companies that were once successful have failed upon the retirement of the founders and subsequently replaced by their respective family related successors.
One may want to look back at the history of the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, who left behind one of the greatest religion on earth upon his demise, but did not nominate nor groom a leader as his successor. However, the Islamic faith has expanded to a vast area of the globe within a short period of time after the prophet departure.
Abu Bakar by virtue of him being the closest companion of the prophet was chosen as the first leader of the Islamic faith after Muhammad, reflecting successor selection by “popular votes”. Umar, the second caliph was nominated by Abu Bakar upon request by the early faithful brought about the concept of “predecessor selection” of a leader. Umar, on the other hand, insisted that his successor to be selected by a “consultative council” where Uthman was nominated as the third Caliph. However, Uthman was murdered and there was an uprising of a rebellion against him that has led to Ali to take over the leadership of the Islamic nation.
The above series of events of the early Islamic history demonstrated the modes of leadership selection. An individual rising to the highest post of the organisation should be the one well recognized and respected by the majority of employees. Abu Bakar was said to be calm and a wise personality well- liked by the Prophet himself during their early struggle of spreading Islam.
Umar was known to be a very aggressive person and spoke his mind on any issue and was selected by Abu Bakar to be the leader after him in view of rapid growth of Muslim population during his tenure demanding strong governing.
Umar has successfully instituted good governance during his tenure and as such the council has wisely chosen Uthman, a scholar in nature, to succeed Umar. It was during Uthman tenure that the Quran was put together into a book that existed today.
Peaceful period during Uthman’s tenure did not last long and Ali rose to the occasion upon Uthman’s murder to battle the uprising rebellion. Ali, known to be a fearless warrior and commanding personality was successful in suppressing the rebellion.
These historical precedents of the early Islamic tradition above taught the early Muslim to select leaders with personality and virtues to suit the situation at hand.
The four Caliphs may have different characters and personalities but suited well with their respective governing tenure. However they have common values that further strengthen their governing abilities. Among these values were; honesty, integrity, highly self-driven, strategic thinker and positive attitude. Their work approaches were always for the betterment of their subjects and subordinates and without self-interest. Succession development of company leaderships with the above prescribed values would ensure the company sustainability for a long term to come.