How Deep is Your Bench?

A tale of two teams

For those who are not football fans, please stay with us, as this is really about succession planning.  At start of the 2015 NFL football season, both the Denver Broncos and Dallas Cowboys sported rosters of highly talented players, and had the potential to have very successful seasons.

Both teams suffered mid-season injuries to their starting quarterbacks, and had backup quarterbacks filling in for the starters for several games.  Of these two teams, one, the Denver Broncos, went to  the Super Bowl, and won, while the other, the Dallas Cowboys, were sitting at home, watching from their couch after suffering a disastrous season.

Some teams have a better ability to adapt to the loss of key members of their team than other teams do.  Whether it is the individual physical talent of the backup player who fills in when the starter is injured, or whether it is the leadership ability of that backup, or the confidence that their teammates have in them, there are clearly differences in performance that teams experience when similar unexpected situations take key players out of the picture.

Businesses, and all organizations for that matter, need to have a plan to develop and nurture their “backup quarterbacks.”  If you intend to take your organization to your “Super Bowl,” to win new customers, penetrate new markets, successfully launch new projects, you need to have second and third level leaders and managers who are prepared to take that next step up in responsibility, if you are to be successful.