Last week was a first for me… I was interviewed on MSNBC about how to prepare for unexpected circumstances in business, and how having a succession plan can save your bacon. I was a guest on the show Your Business, which offers business tips and advice every Sunday morning. The show began with a short video segment about a woman who grew her childcare agency into a very successful business. Her husband also ran his own water damage restoration business. When her husband died suddenly, she was left to run both businesses.

After the video segment, the host of the show, JJ Ramberg, asked me for some tips on how to plan for retirement or unexpected circumstances. She also asked about the biggest mistakes people make in succession planning and how to avoid them. You can check out the 4 minute interview by clicking the image below.

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Putting a succession strategy in place for yourself doesn’t necessarily mean planning for bad things to happen to you. On the flip side, good things might not come your way if you aren’t prepared for the next step in your career. Perhaps there’s a new business opportunity that you can’t take advantage of because you don’t have anyone to take over your responsibilities. Or perhaps you’re so “critical” to the success of your department because nobody can do what you can do, that your company doesn’t dare promote you.

As counterintuitive as it may seem, making yourself replaceable is the surest way to advance your own career. Firstly, the ability to develop other leaders is a key leadership trait that few managers possess. And secondly, when executives are deciding which manager to promote, who are they going to choose? The person leading the department that will self-destruct if they are suddenly gone, or the person who has several people prepared to take over from them? The latter, of course. So you see, succession planning is not entirely an altruistic endeavor.

Ask Yourself This Question

Take a moment right now to ask yourself if you have at least two people who could step up to take over from you within the next 6 months. (I say “at least two people” because having one successor doesn’t do you any good if they are unexpectedly taken out of the mix.) If the answer is “no”, then do something now to make sure you can answer “yes” within the next year.

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