How healthy would your organization be if a key member were suddenly out for weeks? Would your company sink or swim?

An absence of as few as 3 weeks is enough to send many businesses spiraling. Few things focus your attention on knowledge gaps like the sudden absence of a key leader. Which is why many of us don’t think to build organizational bench strength BEFORE we need it.

This morning, I found out that a CEO I’ve consulted with had a major heart attack and emergency surgery. He is expected to recover but he’ll be out for at least a month.


Meanwhile, his team is dealing with the emotional aspects of concern while also being required to manage the operational day-to-day. I’m not sure if they feel fully equipped. This situation got me thinking about just how many organizations and companies would be devastated in a similar set of circumstances.

If this thought has never crossed your mind here are few starting point questions to ask yourself:

  • Who is authorized to make strategic decisions?
  • Sign checks?
  • Create proposals?
  • Approve purchases?
  • Who manages relationships with clients and business partners?
  • Heck, who has the logins for the critical digital systems?

If you read this and went into a slight panic, don’t worry, there are ways to turn this around and get your team, processes and systems in check to build a strong organizational bench.

Key Questions To Ask Yourself:

1. What absolutely comes to a screeching halt if I am away?

(This illuminates areas where having additional people authorized for key business functions is needed.)

2. What limps by if I am away?

(This usually indicates the need to document a process, improve delegation, or provide additional training.)

3. What actually is BETTER when I am away?

(Yes, you can sometimes be a roadblock and not realize it. Look for areas where your interference does not add value, and trust those around you who are better at this than you are.)

What’s Next:

If you are feeling concerned about any of these responses, it’s not too late to start working on building bench strength from within.

First, take time to reflect on these points and be honest on where your organization is and is not. Then, implement additional processes and training can save you a lot of stress and possibly heartache down the line. If that doesn’t make you want to build that that organizational bench strength, I don’t know what will!

#provokebetter planning so your teams can succeed, even when senior leadership is out of the game.


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