Succession Planning

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The purpose of this project is to gain an understanding of succession planning and what it means to plan for future leadership that is aligned with an organization’s core values and leadership competencies.

Skill Building: 

You are also completing this project to help you develop the skills of research, critical thinking, teamwork, and writing a report intended for executive review. Writing is critical because in business it is important to convey information clearly and concisely and to develop a personal brand. Developing a personal brand is important because it is the ongoing process of establishing an image or impression in the minds of others especially those in positions above you. Having a strong personal brand can lead to opportunities that include promotions. 

Skills: Writing, Critical Thinking, Developing a Personal Brand, Succession Planning, Writing a Succession Plan Report. 

Outcomes Met With This Project: 

Use leadership theories, assessment tools, and an understanding of the role of ethics, values, and attitudes to evaluate and enhance personal leadership skills

Assess the interactions between the external environment and the organization to foster responsible and effective leadership and organizational practices

  • Collaborate in teams utilizing effective communication techniques
  • Develop individual awareness, style, and communication skills that enhances leadership skills
  • Integrate and apply analytical principles and skills to make strategic decisions
  • This project is the last of three group projects. Members of the team will collaborate acting as a self-managed team. As a self-managed team, members take a collective responsibility for ensuring the team operates effectively, sets team goals, manages time, makes decisions and solve problems, communicates frequently and clearly, and meets the deadline.  You may have team members that are located all over the world. Working in a virtual environment should not stop the self-managed team from being successful in reaching the final goal. All work must appear in the Group area. 
  • As a self-managed team, the following is the work for which team members are responsible: 

setting goals

determining roles and responsibilities for each team member

actively participating and communicating in the Group area of the classroom

  • completing the agreed upon work prior to the deadline
  • resolving problems and issues among the team members
  • agreeing on a final product as a group (consensus decision making)
  • submitting the final product into the Assignment Folder (all students will submit into the Assignment Folder)
  • All students on the team will receive the same grade unless a member fails to participate or does not carry his or her weight in completing the project. These students will receive a zero or a reduced grade depending on the level of participation and contribution to the team project. 
  • Teams can consist of 2, 3 or 4 students but should not consists of more than four students. Team members are responsible for completing the project even if a team member does not fulfill his or her obligation of submitting the agreed upon work. The project cannot be completed individually and students cannot choose to create teams other than those created by the instructor. If a team member does not hear from any other member, it is important to reach out to the instructor. 
  • If the project is submitted after the due date, the Late Assignment policy is applicable. No extensions beyond the due date is given to teams. 

Background: Your Group has been assigned to be part of the Succession Plan Committee at Biotech. This Committee has been hard at work for months, planning the successor for Mr. Barney, and the rest of the executive team (largely positions occupied by the Barney family). They have assigned your group to complete the Succession Plan for five key leadership positions at Biotech. These positions will need to be filled over the next 12-24 months. There is not an immediate need for any of them currently, but vacancies will be imminent. The preference is to fill these internally, but Mr. Barney, the CEO, has stressed that if the right leader for a position does not exist already within Biotech, he would rather search for someone externally than to settle. 

Your Group has already analyzed these five leadership positions and presented a report to Mr. Barney about them. Now it is time to identify any internal candidates that may be suitable for these positions. 

The Committee has already interviewed five different individuals that have expressed an interest in furthering their careers at Biotech. All have leadership positions currently at different levels, and within different departments of Biotech. All have agreed to accept any leadership position assigned to them, and all are open to relocate. 


Step 1: Course Material

For this project, you are required to use the case scenario facts and the course material.  External sources are not permitted.  You are not researching on the Internet or using resources from outside the course.  You are expected to answer the requirements identified below showing the connection between the case scenario facts and the course material.   Using course material goes beyond defining terms and are used to explain the ‘why and how’ of a situation.  Avoid merely making statements but close the loop of the discussion by explaining how something happens or why something happens, which focuses on importance and impact.  In closing the loop, you will demonstrate the ability to think clearly and rationally showing an understanding of the logical connections between the ideas presented in a case scenario, the course material and the question(s) being asked.  Using one or two in-text citations from the course material throughout the entire paper will not earn many points on an assignment.  The use of a variety of course material is expected consistently supporting what is presented.  The support must be relevant and applicable to the topic being discussed.  Points are not earned for mentioning a term or concept but by clearly and thoroughly explaining or discussing the question at hand.

Step 2:  Review the Leadership Competencies Table 

Review the Leadership Competencies Table completed in Week Two to accompany the Job Announcement (You may also wish to review any feedback received by your Instructor about your Table.). 

Step 3:  Review Upcoming Positions 

Review the five different upcoming positions for which your group has been tasked at filling and the leadership competencies you identified for each (You may also wish to review any feedback received by your Instructor about these competencies). 

Step 4:  Read Profiles of Five Internal Candidates 

Read the profiles of the five internal candidates that have put themselves forward for leadership positions.

Candidate 1 – Jackie Johnson – Current Position – Director of Purchasing 

Jackie Johnson currently works as Director of Purchasing and obtained this job right out serving in the military. She is a graduate of UMUC’s business administration program. Johnson entered the interview room all smiles and with a firm handshake.  The interviewer admitted to being impressed by the firm handshake and the constant eye contact throughout the interview.  Johnson was very prepared to discuss her future with the company.  She had completed extensive research on all four geographic divisions prior to the interview.  Johnson had also spoken with current employees throughout Headquarters. Johnson indicated that, as Director of Purchasing, she had worked very hard to create a small business “subculture” within her department.  She felt that her employees were empowered to make their own decisions, which freed her to think strategically about purchasing for Biotech.  She admits that this “free-rein” approach to leadership has sometimes allowed her department to have missteps in distribution with divisions outside of North America.  She has worked hard to overcome that image by altering her leadership style according to the situation or the employee she is dealing with. 

Her approach to leading is to look for leadership opportunities and encourage employees to act upon them, if possible.  Johnson believes she is positive about the future and while she admits to only having worked in the purchasing department, she feels that she can bring a big picture perspective to the company, having worked with both suppliers and customers in purchasing.  When asked about her risk tolerance, she replied, “I believe that is demonstrated in the small-business, entrepreneurial subculture I created in purchasing.  At the end of the day, I’m more risk tolerant than cautious.”  Johnson said she sees herself as a transformational leader.  She feels that good leadership is built on good relationships with followers. Relational theory seems to make the most sense to her for the 21st century because people make change work, and leading change is the future. 

Candidate 2 – Henrietta Higgins – Current Position – Assistant Director of Purchasing 

Henrietta currently works at Biotech Headquarters in the Purchasing Department. She is 28 years old with 3 years of college.  Henrietta is a business administration major, and expects to graduate in about one year. She is friendly and has a quiet demeanor. She does not tolerate much nonsense from people, hates surprises, and wants people to be brief in talking with her. 

When asked what she likes about her current position, she replied that she likes the feeling of a small-business that her boss has created within the purchasing department. She appreciates that it makes her feel in control in such an environment.  She likes the idea of the collaborative environment of Biotech and responded well to the idea that her opinions and suggestions were always welcome.  However, she expressed some concern that the youthful employees of IT, and some other departments, had plenty of opinions but not a lot of discipline in their work ethic.  She has found that structure, procedures and rules have worked better than asking for input.  When asked how her staff perceived her, she laughed and said they called her a “Type A.”.  The interviewer noted that during this statement, it was only one of two times during the interview that she held his gaze for any length of time. When asked what characteristics she thought a leader needed to possess to succeed in the 21st century she replied, “…objective, practical, controlled and fair.”  Higgins said her leadership style was transactional but the interview was not sure if it was not more authoritarian. 

When asked what leadership theory she thought was most likely to work in the 21st century her reply was “Great Man, because it emphasizes the characteristics of a person like honesty and trust.”  Higgins’s knowledge of the business was sound but when asked if anyone could be a leader she said no. It was up to the position that a person holds.  Higgins did understand that sustainability was very important to the business. She said she had some ideas on how to make the process aspects of Biotech better and more efficient while saving cost.  She also thought that being eco-friendly was important but realized that was the other meaning of the word sustainability in business. 

Candidate 3 – Mohammad Darvish – Current position – Marketing Manager, Homeopathic Division (Corporate Headquarters) 

Darvish currently manages the sales of the Homeopathic Division.  He enjoys working with a customer until they are satisfied and regrets having to short change the time he spends with customers today.  He also feels that the company culture has become more rigid over the past few years.  When asked to elaborate he responded, “Folks are scared of making mistakes. If there has been anything I’ve been seeking to change in the homeopathic division, it’s that it’s okay to make mistakes, as long as we learn from them.” When asked what characteristics he thought a leader needed to succeed in the 21st century, he replied, “…flexible, risk tolerant, insightful and honest.” 

He liked the collaborative culture of Biotech and showed signs of having done his homework on the other divisions, particularly Asia. Biotech, he said, would do well if the company made sure that this division continued it existing culture because it encouraged creativity. 

When asked how he created followers among his employees, Darvish replied that he liked to use incentive motivational techniques and would sometimes empower workers if they demonstrated the ability to take risks.  Darvish said he was sometimes a laisse-faire leader because it encouraged freedom of thinking.  He said he would solve problems largely through “good teaming and collaboration”.  His said his favorite leadership theory was contingency theory because it allowed him to approach things by the situation.  He liked to agree with people and saw himself as being flexible.  When asked how he dealt with change, he replied, “In this business, if you’re not changing, you’re dying.” 

Candidate 4 – Marg Simpson – Current position – Sales Director, Chicago Office 

Marg Simpson is 36 years old. She is a single mother of two.  She was a nurse for 8 years before coming to work at Biotech in the marketing area of the sales division in Chicago.  She has been working for the company for four years.  Her immediate manager reported that Marg is highly motivated and competent at her job.  Her manager said that Marg’s biggest asset is that she “looked at challenges as opportunities and often found creative solutions to problems that others had not considered.” 

Simpson’s nursing years were spent at the University of Chicago in Orlando Park. Surrounded by a large Muslim community the hospital gave classes in Arabic and Simpson found it very useful in her work to attend Arabic classes.  She learned not only how to carry on a conversation with non-English speaking patients but the names of many drugs and over-the-counter treatments.  Simpson enjoyed her time in Orlando Park and found the culture of the families very compatible with her own ideas of family. 

When asked if she was risk tolerant or risk averse, she answered: “I occasionally reward risk taking in the work environment.  I do not think poorly planned risk is wise, but sometimes you have to take a chance in sales.  It is not for the faint-hearted.  But at the end of the day, I’d describe myself more risk averse than tolerant.” 

Having read about the opportunity through the Biotech’s HR division website, Simpson was excited about the possibility of moving her career forward.  When asked if she were to relocate to other regions, such as the Middle East, if it would present problems for her, she only said. “Initially, but if I plan things out well, surround myself with good people and learn about my clients I am sure I could overcome the cultural drawbacks to being a woman.” 

While she describes herself as being very familiar with Muslim cultures, Simpson freely admits that she knows little about Europe or South America.  She has read some information and thinks she could learn another language if she is given help and the time needed to learn. 

Simpson has many innovative ideas about increasing sales. Simpson’s evaluations are superior and she works well with her team. Her colleagues suggest that she is flexible and a people-first person. Her eye contact is good and she comes off as being very authentic. She describes her leadership style as “a blend of situational and transformational” and describes herself as a relational leader.  The interviewer noted that at times she seemed to be more future oriented in her comments and may need to worry more about the here and now when getting things done. 

Candidate 5 – Rafael Mendez – Current Position – Director of Sales, New Mexico 

Mendez currently is Director of the New Mexico sales division at Biotech. He was Biotech’s top salesman before taking over the Director position.  Mendez is 32 years old. A recent divorce from his wife has made him eager to make a change in his career. Mendez’s wife was Brazilian.  Mendez is fluent in Portuguese. When asked if he was open to moving outside of the United States, Mendez replied that he was “open to adventure.”   He had not traveled excessively but had gone to Brazil regularly with his wife when they were together.  He was familiar with the problems of a developing country. 

Mendez enjoys working with customers and spends a lot of time with them making sure they are satisfied. Darvish enjoys Biotech’s collaborative culture. He feels that one of the secrets to his own sales success is the ability to coordinate with other departments within Biotech, including purchasing, IT, R&D, and HR.  As part of his 360-degree performance appraisal, his team gave him glowing reviews.  He got equally high ratings from the more senior (Baby Boomer) salespeople on his team as the younger (millennial) salespeople. 

When asked what characteristics he thought a leader needed to succeed in the 21st century, he replied, “…you need to be a good listener, first and foremost.”  He felt a good leader should change rapidly in a crisis and should be direct and assertive when dealing with people.  When asked about the idea of competitive edge he said “A leader has to worry about making money every day.  It is important to have immediate results for all to see especially in sales.  Even customers prefer to deal with successful sales people than those that plod along.”                                                                                           

Mendez believes he could do well in another country if the company ensured he received language and cultural training.  He knew that understanding how people thought about business and their products was important but more likely the sale would be clinched if he knew what was and wasn’t good in the country in which he was selling.  He stated, “Knowing your clients is everything in sales, so I suspect it is a very important part of leadership at Biotech as well.”  When asked how he created followers among his employees, Mendez replied that he liked to have rules but room for deviation, and likes to provide flexibility in the job while staying results-driven.  Mendez said he was a situational leader because it encouraged freedom, and allowed him to use different leadership styles with a diverse group of employees. 

Step 5:  Succession Planning Table – Part Two 

Complete the Succession Planning Table – Part Two to help guide your decision making. 

Step 6:  Succession Planning Report – Part Two 

Complete the Succession Planning Report – Part Two. This is the report that will be reviewed by President and CEO, Maximillian Barney. 

Your Group’s Succession Planning Report Part Two will be addressed to Mr. Maximillian Barney, the CEO and President of Biotech. The report should address all of the following elements, with each section supported by course materials


A description of your group’s succession planning process (from both last week and this week) 


For each of the five positions identify: 

The internal candidate recommended for each position, and why (supported by course materials).

A brief discussion about any candidate not chosen for a leadership position at this time, with justification for this decision supported by course materials.

If any of the positions cannot be filled by the current candidate pool, describe why an external search is recommended.

If any of the positions cannot be filled by the current candidate pool, briefly describe the qualities that you feel the Biotech recruiting team should look for in the external candidate for this position.


Describe briefly to Mr. Barney why your group’s recommendations are important for Biotech’s future. 

Reference Page: (in APA format) 

Step 7:  Submit the completed Report in the Assignment Folder.  

Submit the Succession Planning Report Part Two into your Group’s Assignment Area. One submission should be made per group.

Other Required Elements:

Read the grading rubric for the project. Use the grading rubric while completing the project to ensure all requirements are met that will lead to the highest possible grade. 

Third person writing is required. Third person means that there are no words such as “I, me, my, we, or us” (first person writing), nor is there use of “you or your” (second person writing). If uncertain how to write in the third person, view this link: person

Contractions are not used in business reports, so do not use them. 

  • Paraphrase and do not use direct quotation marks. This means you do not use more than four consecutive words from a source document, but put a passage from a source document into your own words and attribute the passage to the source document, using in-text citations in APA format. 
  • In-text citations should be included in ALL SECTIONS of the report, and should demonstrate application of the course material. Note that a reference within a reference list cannot exist without an associated in-text citation and vice versa. 
  • Provide the page or paragraph number, where applicable.
  • You may only use the course material from the classroom.  You may not use books or any resource from the Internet.

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