No Succession Plan? No Bench Strength. Just Ask the Miami Heat.

Guest Contributorby John Fleischauer | Posted | Talent Acquisition

No Succession Plan? No Bench Strength. Just Ask the Miami Heat.

Four years ago, American basketball icon Lebron James went on national television and told the world that he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers and "taking his talents to South Beach" in Miami.

Many people criticized him for putting on (what appeared to be) an elaborate, self-promotional event. Others praised him for raising a pile of money for the Boys and Girls Club of America at the same event.

No matter what you think about Lebron James as a person, he is arguably the best basketball player the world has ever seen.

The Miami Heat built their team around James. In fact, from a talent acquisition point of view, the team was able to recruit incredibly talented individuals (at a huge discount) just because of the allure of playing with James.

Talk about a magnetic talent brand!

When top performers leave...

The Heat have been very successful with James; they've made it to the championship finals four years in a row and have hoisted the big trophy twice. Even basketball fans in Cleveland have to respect Miami's success.

Fast forward to present day.

James dropped a big bad news bomb on Miami's championship parade planning committee last week when he decided to opt out of his contract and officially become a free agent.

Three of his former teammates - Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem -have all followed James' decision and have since opted out of their contracts with the Heat too, leaving the team in an unexpected, complete re-build situation.

Today it was announced that James has resigned with the Cleveland Cavaliers, his former team. Great news for Cleveland, but...

What's next for the Miami Heat? Do you think they have a post-Lebron-James succession plan in place?

I bet they wish they did.

Having a solid succession plan is more than a stop-gap measure for when a top performer leaves. It's about being able to respond effectively to (sudden) change by having a pool of high potential talent at the ready to step in and assume greater responsibility.

How does your organization's succession planning strategy stack up?

Have you ever been in a Miami Heat situation when it comes to a top performer leaving? Did you have a succession plan in place or were you left scrambling?

As talent acquisition professionals, we locate and engage with the best talent out there in an effort to make our corporate teams stronger. Although we don't all have the ability to throw millions and millions of dollars at talent, we have plenty of tools at our disposal to demonstrate the value of our organization's talent brand.

Our role is to help our organizations build a strong talent pipeline by sourcing the best talent out there. But best doesn't just mean the most skilled; it's about hiring for cultural fit. It's about sourcing talented individuals who will (hopefully) contribute to the organization long term.

Would I want the Lebron James of the talent management realm on my team?


Would I be terrified of my team's long-term success, should that superstar become disengaged with his employment?


Although it's possible that James will return to the Heat, I think the pain that Miami is about to suffer is the clearest indication possible that it takes a whole team to win in the long-term.

Yes, elite individuals can make a major and immediate impact to your organization, but it takes a whole team to win the big game year after year, after year.

As talent acquisition professionals, I guess the biggest question we can answer is as follows:

Should we really be targeting the best of the best individual contributors out there - or should we be targeting the best team players in our candidate pool?

Quick wins are fantastic but dynasties last for years.

What do you think?

Succession Planning Templates

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Cover of the book

Succession Planning Templates

Determine the depth or your talent pipeline

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