A Barry-Wehmiller Company

Leadership Succession Planning

Top-performing companies know that one key to continued organizational effectiveness is Succession Planning. In fact, a study done by Hewitt found that 90% of the Top 20 Companies have a formal succession planning process in which leadership potential is assessed separately from performance. This compares to just 41% at other companies.

What is a Succession Plan?

Rather than simple replacement planning, where you have names listed as successors to key leaders, our succession planning process differentiates individuals on both performance and potential. This allows you to have a pool of successor candidates to select from when you have a job opening and can be strategic about developing your high-potential’s career trajectory. The second part of a succession plan done well is driving differentiated development based on the potential of your employees and future leaders.

Chapman and Co. Leadership Institute has a simple but highly effective method for succession planning. We start by working with the organization to define key inputs into the system such as performance, potential, readiness, mobility, and aspiration. From there, your leaders complete a worksheet on each person in their span of care which uses a science-based approach to place people into the 9-cell matrix. After individual meetings with each leader, the group of leaders comes together for a facilitated talent calibration and talent development process. We customize all materials for your organization and train your HR team to roll out this process across the organization.

The Chapman & Co. Leadership Institute Succession Planning Process


Chapman & Co.’s succession planning consultants help to ensure that any talent move you make is a smart one, by promoting the type of leadership that continues to fuel organizational growth.

Rather than allowing our clients to fall into the trap of just promoting their best performers, we guide organizations and human resource teams to develop the right leaders, so that, when the need arises, they are ready to take the reins. That’s the ultimate goal for business succession planning – to have a pool of top talent to select from when the time is right to fill key positions.

When done well, Succession Planning results in:

  • Improved Retention of Next-Generation Talent: When your high potentials and high performers know you are investing in their career development through Succession Planning, they are more likely to stay on board than to search for greener pastures.

  • Protect Shareholder Value & Growth Trajectory: Top companies consider Succession Planning an insurance plan against performance setbacks, like unexpected exits or illnesses. Shareholders want assurance that there is someone ready to step into key roles and guard their stock value when the need arises.

  • Increased Bench Strength: Enhanced employee performance and bench strength are products of good succession planning, as a robust Talent Development Process is key to the outcome.

To help you get there, we have an integrated approach that has proven to ensure successful outcomes:


Part 1: Differentiating Talent – The 9-Cell Performance and Potential Matrix


We use what is known as the calibrated 9-Cell Performance vs. Potential matrix. This solution allows us to help you truly differentiate the top talent in your organization and identify potential successors. Using a combination of hard assessment data and leader input, we help you identify those in your organization who are the true high-potentials - those who can take on leadership roles now and in the future.

In the typical 9-cell process, managers struggle to successfully differentiate between performance and potential, and fail to truly identify key employees. This is often caused by unclear definitions of “potential” and an unwillingness to have tough calibration discussions to ensure proper cell placement. This leads to past performance becoming the proxy for future potential and too many individuals wrongly placed in the matrix with higher potential than they truly have. This hurts not only the individual, but the organization as well, as employees are promoted into key roles or stretch assignments for which they are not well-suited.

Our process meets your unique needs by helping your organization and human resource team clearly define potential and then teach you how to calibrate that potential objectively. This leads to a much more robust talent management process that ensures leadership development is correctly differentiated.

Our program includes:

  • Defining Potential vs. Performance for your organization and human resource team to aid in placement.

  • Completing an objective assessment of Critical Thinking, EQ, and Learning Agility, if needed.

  • Guiding current leadership through our 9-Cell Performance vs. Potential Matrix to differentiate talent.

  • Gaining alignment on placements throughout the leadership chain by facilitating a Talent Calibration meeting.

Part 2: Development – The 9-Cell Method


Many organizations stop once they fit people into the cells, but that is a huge miss. We take the conversation to the next level, building out robust and differentiated leadership development plans based on a combination of employee needs and the needs of the business. Since 70% of learning happens through experience, we look for real-world challenges to help create development opportunities that will drive growth and change.

Our program includes:

  • Guiding leadership through the building of differentiated development plans in the areas of Retention, Exposure, Engagement, Mentoring, Coaching, and more.

  • Recommendations on how to manage and measure progress.

Why Many Homegrown Succession Planning Efforts Fail

Most managers believe that they have the best people in the organization.  But the fact remains that 100% of the team can’t be in the top 10%. This is where hard decisions must be made, creating an extreme challenge for those directly connected to talent. An unbiased, third party that can challenge leaders’ thinking and guide tough decisions is critical to an effective succession planning program.

What Are the Benefits of Succession Planning?

Select Quality Candidates

Building out your succession pipeline begins with choosing candidates with a high leadership potential when recruiting.

Hiring the right mix of deep experts and true high potentials gives you a diverse talent pool.

Using pre-employment assessments helps companies identify and recruit employees who already have a high motivation to succeed.

Promote Excellence

With its heavy focus on training and coaching, succession planning promotes both the personal and business skills your employees need to take on greater leadership responsibilities within the company one day.

As a result, team members are prepared with the skills to excel in their current roles.

Identify Talent

Succession planning regularly involves assessing your current talent pipeline to identify and nurture talent.

It can help you identify resources within your current organization you didn’t know you had and prepare employees for further advancement.

Develop Future Leaders

By using a combination of on-the-job learning, exposure to key people, and training classes, we help organizations put robust development plans together for internal candidates.

By differentiating development, we are targeting the right kind of development opportunities depending on the employee’s agility, ability, and aspirations. Individuals with broad potential have a very different developmental path than those who are deep subject matter experts.

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