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This toolkit provides information, ideas and tools for creating a tailor-made succession planning strategy to keep your organization vibrant and relevant to girls and young women; able to move with the times and respond to change and growth in organizational life.

Succession planning is vitally important for an organization and needs to be prepared for at all levels; National, Regional and World level. The toolkit consists of theoretical background information, exercises and reflection/discussion suggestions and importantly, examples of succession planning stories from the WAGGGS world Regions. At the end of this publication is a list of further information, links and resources to support you in the successful development of your strategy.

How to use this resource

This resource is intended for Member Organizations and volunteer-led organizations to support their succession planning strategies. We encourage you to use the resource to support your thinking process and to guide you in the planning process for your organization. The resource can also be used at training workshops and for disseminating guidance to Members.

What is succession planning?

“Succession planning can be broadly defined as identifying potential leaders to fill key positions.”
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Europe

As well as identifying potential leaders, succession planning is the process of developing those leaders to fulfil future key positions in your organization by:

  • Identifying critical roles within the organization
  • Identifying and assessing possible people who could fulfil those roles
  • Analyzing the skills, competences and experience required to take on those roles
  • Providing potential successors with the appropriate development activities to develop and fill those key positions
  • Developing leadership succession at all levels

Why is it important to have Succession Planning?

“Left on their own, organizations tend towards stability and stagnation: Leaders incite and direct change.”  
Johnathan Gosling, Director, Centre for Leadership Studies, University of Exeter


With good succession planning in place, people are prepared and ready for new leadership roles. The process prepares the organization for when someone leaves and ensures that their successor has what is needed to take on that position.

Succession planning is a tool that deals with the past, present and future. It is connected both with change and with continuity. With organizations continuing to change, diversify and grow, succession planning encompasses the recruitment, development and retention of future and current talent. It is concerned with ensuring both the short term and the long-term continuity of the organization.

Short term → critical skills → replacement
Long term → development → successor

Succession planning is a top priority for any kind of organization or institution, corporate or non-profit. It is a way of keeping the organization focused on its’ vision, mission and goals without gaps in its personnel, processes or procedures.


How Succession Planning can support your organization

“If somebody in your organization was hit by a bus, what impact would it have on the association – and how is the association prepared for any possible change?”  
Succession. Are you ready?  By Marshall Goldsmith

A careful and considered plan of succession ensures the least possible disruption to your organization’s activities and efficiency. Succession planning is a necessary part of an organization’s ability to reduce risk, create a proven leadership model, and ensure business continuity. It can also provide staff with some clarity in changing times – hence improving volunteer and staff morale.


Discussion Point

What happens when an effective leader in your organization leaves? Are you ready to continue your activities without interruption?

How succession planning can support your organization can be understood by looking at the benefits of succession planning. There may be more benefits that your organization can think of.


The Benefits of Succession Planning

  • Ensures ongoing growth and survival of the organization
  • Promotes continuity and stability of operations and policy
  • Focuses on leadership continuity and improved knowledge sharing
  • Creates the link from now into the future
  • Develops people within the organization (provides opportunities for others)
  • Prepares current people to undertake key roles
  • Develops talent and long-term growth
  • Improves workforce capabilities and overall performance
  • Improves commitment and therefore retention
  • Meets the development requirements of existing (and potential future) positions
  • Improves support to leaders throughout their employment
  • Motivates members and leaders
  • Counters the increasing difficulty of recruiting leaders externally
  • Provides more effective monitoring and tracking of competence levels and skill gaps



“A person…that follows, especially a person who succeeds another.”
Collins English Dictionary and Thesaurus