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SEQUENCE

Identifying your successor, the process in which you mentor him/her, as well as the sequence in which you place team members alongside, is critical to success in succession. 

Have you Identified your Successor? 

Here are 4 questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the plan for mentoring him/her into the leadership role?
  2. Is the board in agreement with the selection, plan, process, and timing of the transition?
  3. Are other team members in proper sequence for the successor to win? 
  4. What training process is in place for other team members to support the successor?

This process may sound like a lot of work, yet if it is your plan to leave a legacy that lasts and you desire to finish your leg of the race at full speed, each step is necessary. Let’s take another look at the relay race from lesson one to consider further the concept of sequence in the process of succession and how the development of this team and their technical skillsets contribute to a team win.  

Richard Stander of South Africa, in his article “Athletics Omnibus-Relays,” identifies some great basic facts and incredible insights to the individual sequence of runners based on skillsets:

  • The relay race is a team event, consisting of 2 or more athletes changing over a baton from one athlete to another while running as fast as possible.  
  • The object is to transport a baton from point A to point B as fast as possible. 
  • Relays are run over distances from 400m to a marathon. The total amount of athletes in a relay will vary but the 4x100m, 4x400m, and the 4x1000m medley have 4 athletes.
  • The main focus of the team is to ensure that each member of the team is technically sound during the relay. 

Richard Stander gives these insights on the sequence of relay runners:

Considerations for the 1st athlete starting:

  • Must be a good starter
  • Must run comfortably around the bend 
  • The athlete with the worst change over must run first
  • Must carry the baton in the right hand

Change-over technique between 1st and 2nd athlete:  

  • Run in the inside of the track
  • As a bend runner, run the shortest possible route next to the line
  • Give the signal to 2nd athlete to stick out left hand backward
  • Pass the 2nd athlete in the inside of the 2nd athlete 
  • Hand over the baton to 2nd athlete without stretching the arm out forward

Considerations for the 2nd athlete running the back straight:

  • The leg is 100 -120m long depending on the take-over points
  • Suitable for the fastest 100m-200m specialist
  • Must be a left-handed carrier 

The change-over technique of the 2nd athlete exchanging to the 3rd athlete:

  • Stand on the outside of the lane 
  • Place a marker 8-10m before the start of the take-over zone
  • Start sprinting when athlete 1 passes the marker 
  • Stick the left hand out backward when athlete 1 gives the signal 
  • Take the baton in the left hand and carry it without changing the position of the baton for the full length of the leg

Considerations for the 3rd athlete running the 2nd bend: 

  • Must be a good bend runner
  • Must be the most experienced athlete – both change-over areas are technically challenging
  • Must handle stress best – usually, short hurdles specialists do well in this position
  • Must be a right-hand carrier

The change-over technique of 3rd athlete exchanging to the 4th athlete:

  • Stand in the inside of the lane
  • Place a marker 8-10m before the start of the takeover zone
  • Start sprinting when athlete 2 passes the marker
  • Stick the right hand out backward when athlete 2 gives the signal 
  • Take the baton in the right hand and carry it without changing the position of the baton for the full length of the leg
  • Run the shortest possible route next to the line

Considerations for the 4th athlete:

  • Must be a good sprinter – the 100m specialists do well in this position
  • Must be a left-handed carrier
  • Must handle stress well – at the third change over the lanes are not staggered anymore and all the athletes are close to each other during the change-over which causes the athlete to be confused

Change-over technique for the 4th athlete:

  • Carry the baton in the left hand
  • Stand on the outside of the lane to allow athlete 3 to pass on the inside 
  • Place a marker 8-10m before the start of the take-over zone
  • Start sprinting when athlete 3 passes the marker 
  • Run the first strides in a straight line to gain speed quickly
  • Stick the left hand out backward when athlete 3 gives the signal
  • Run full speed until the athlete passes the finish line

 As you can see, there are specific skillsets that each athlete in each specific lap needs to be the best for the team to win. Which hand does each athlete run with? Which athlete runs the bends best? Which athlete is most competitive? Do we think that we need to prepare any less for succession? Shouldn’t we be as proactive and purposeful as we consider our team with a transition on the horizon? As a leader, you own the responsibility of determining where should each one is to be placed in the organization. What are you doing today to set the team up for a win? 

My Process Experience

I want to share with you what I have done in my transition from serving as President/CEO of Teen Challenge Southeast Region and, more recently, from the President/CEO role at Global Teen Challenge. What we created was presented to the Board of Directors before we began implementing it in the transition. Understand that it’s simply a template that includes things to consider in your succession and is neither perfect nor complete.

Click here for the Teen Challenge Succession Strategy | President/CEO Position

This process served us well for the Southeast Region transition. As President/CEO of Teen Challenge Southeast Region, I recruited Brice Maddock into the organization to serve as Chief Operation Officer for a period of two years before beginning the process of succession. This gave us a good amount of learning time to work together, recognize strengths, and discover how we complemented each other in ministry. 

It is similarly being used for my transition within Global Teen Challenge today. I will tell you that I was very purposeful in stepping out of the leadership role in order to give each successor the opportunity to step up into the role and for the team to transition loyalties. 

For example, I allowed the successors to lead staff meetings, key leadership events, and devotions with the team to help establish them. I stepped back a year and then came to meetings when I was invited to speak and/or for a specific purpose. 

In the board meetings, I made it a point to give my successor the majority of the time to speak to the agenda items in order to give the board a sense of confidence in the new leader’s abilities. When the actual transition was made, it was seamless. 

In our next session, we will be talking more about timing, which is a critical part of a successful transition. I pray this is helpful and encouraging, not discouraging. You don’t have to do everything perfectly but considering these processes when you are making a key leadership change in your own organization will help you to win the race.

Jerry Nance, PhD
Board of Directors Executive Chairman
Global Teen Challenge

 

 

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