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‘Success’ in succession planning

by Froswa Booker-Drew
Dr. Froswa Booker-Drew

We all heard the news about the departure of Rev. Dr. Frederick Haynes III from Rainbow PUSH. I remember being so elated about his selection to the role of this historic position previously led by Rev. Jesse Jackson.

I’ve been blessed to know Dr. Haynes and the brilliance experienced during his sermons goes beyond Sunday morning services.

His command of the English language is extraordinary but his ability to advocate for our community is exceptional.

I was looking forward to witnessing the impact and new ideas that could have been initiated as a result of his leadership.

Many speculated as to the possible reasons for his decision to leave just after a few months in office as president/CEO. Both news commentator Roland Martin and author/academic Michael Eric Dyson determined that his departure was due to the unwillingness of the past to ‘let go.’

Dyson stated: “Haynes faced a perhaps more daunting task—succeeding a man who many didn’t want to succeed, making it impossible for Haynes to succeed.

The hard truth is many around Jackson don’t want him to relinquish power. The succession of men who have paraded through PUSH as would-be successors to Jackson testifies to the inability to surrender authority for the good of the group.”

I don’t know if any of us will ever know the real reason. Yet, this isn’t unusual.

Throughout history, there have been many leaders who did not want to relinquish the reins.

So many have held on far too long. I’ve witnessed iconic leaders who died without training others.

Their legacies died with them. Succession planning is critical and just like we leave wills (or should) for our families, as leaders, it’s important to make sure that our organizations, congregations, and families are set up for success.

We can learn a number of lessons from Elijah and Elisha about the power of succession planning. Elijah was a powerful prophet. Elisha dropped what he was doing to follow Elijah. Elijah was very intentional in his relationship with Elisha.

When Elijah knew that his time was coming to an end, he prepared Elisha. “Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Request whatever I might do for you before I am taken from you.’ Elisha answered, ‘May I receive a double portion of your spirit.’ He replied, ‘You have asked something that is not easy. Still, if you see me taken up from you, your wish will be granted; otherwise, not,’” 2 Kings 2:9-10. Elisha received what he asked for and he, too, was a very powerful prophet because of his preparation AND the anointing.

As leaders, we must pay attention to the call on the lives of those God has entrusted to us. We must nurture the gifts and talents of those that we are blessed to steward.

We also must be comfortable in knowing when it’s time to walk away and give the reins over, believing that God has something greater for us in this new season.

I’ve seen pastors hold onto their pulpits refusing to groom others even when they are on their last leg.

Instead of taking the time to make sure that their dreams flourish beyond their post, they will often take it down with them because of fear, control, and pride.

Haman is an example of a leader (Esther 3-7) who sought to be important and willing to harm others to keep his power. He wanted everyone to bow down to him because he felt his title warranted it. Ultimately, his self-absorbed behavior cost him his life.

King Saul is another example of what happens when leadership does not recognize the talent in their midst. Saul was so threatened by David that instead of trying to build himself, he spent more time trying to harm David.

Saul made excuses about his behavior, minimized his wrongdoing and did not take responsibility for what he had done. He missed an opportunity to be a part of something amazing by taking the time to groom and grow David.

Instead, he allowed his fragile ego to destroy his legacy which also impacted his children (1 Samuel 15: 3-35).

Leaders must know when it’s time to let go. The consequences are generational.

hat’s your succession plan?

(Dr. Froswa’ Booker Drew is the founder of Reconciliation and Restoration Foundation and president of Soulstice Consultancy. Visit <drfroswabooker.com>; email: info@drfroswa.com).

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