Who should replace me?

have been asked to pick someone for the top job as CEO, basically to replace me. The two candidates are my CMO and the CFO, and the problem is both are very good leaders with excellent track records and impeccable credentials, both have been with me for the last 8 years. While the CMO has helped carve out a very effective brand-led growth strategy that has worked for our company, the CFO has helped maintain the cost and organizational discipline that really made the strategy work. Each one wouldn’t have worked without the other. So help me decide the criteria for decision.
The Ramayana speaks of three sets of brothers: the sons of Dashrath (Ram and Bharat), the sons of Riksha (Vali and Sugriv) and the sons of Vishrava (Ravan and Kuber). The sons of Dashrath are willing to make the other king; the sons of Riksha have to share the kingdom but end up fighting over it; one son of Vishrava, Kuber, builds Lanka and the other, Ravan, usurps it. The sons of Dashrath are called manavas, or humans, because their only concern is Ayodhya. The other brothers are called vanars (monkeys) or rakshasas (demons) because they are not concerned about the kingdom, only themselves. Ultimately, it is about the organization, not the candidate.
Your concern should not be who is a better candidate, your concern should be who is good for the organization, the one who will enable the organization grow even in your absence and face challenges of the future. This can only happen if you have not been a Banyan tree, become so big that nothing has grown in your shadow. Yes, the CMO and CFO have done well in their respective domains. They have done what you feel should have been done. But will they be good in new roles, different roles, handling jobs beyond their respective domains. For example, does the CMO know anything beyond marketing: does he understand sales and finance and HR and admin and investor relations? Can he handle the board? And does the CFO know anything beyond discipline? Can he inspire people? Does he have a vision that will get the organization excited and aligned? Most critically, are either of them a yajaman?
A yajaman is proactive in decision-making and responsible for its consequences. Did your CMO do what he was told to do or was he taking independent decisions and responsibility? Did your CFO just do his job, but go out of his way to take decision and take responsibility, not just for success but also failure? Most critically, did you see any one of them groom people to take their respective job. If they don’t help people grow, if they don’t think beyond their domains, if they are unable to think future and take risks, they are probably not good to be leaders.
To be a yajaman, one has to take people along. Who amongst the two tries to take people along? This does not mean consensus all the time. Sometimes it requires force, a little pushing and pulling. Who can handle the consequence of losing the other? Who can find a replacement quickly enough? Who is capable of retaining the other?
You need to list all the things that you feel you did to be a good CEO and map if these qualities exist in some measure in either of the candidates. You need to check if either of them empathizes with the organization and understands the market and can handle change that even you cannot anticipate today. The CEO position cannot be a reward for a job well done. You never promote for performance; you always promote only if there is potential.

Source :The Economic Times.
Date : 05/07/2013


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