If you didn’t watch last night’s College Football Playoff National Championship game, you’re probably not aware of the Ohio State Buckeyes and the unique story of their quarterback, Cardale Jones. Jones started the season as a third-string player, only to find himself as the starting quarterback at the national championship game, up against the Oregon Ducks and their Heisman-winning quarterback, Marcus Mariota. That’s a BIG leap of change in a short amount of time.

Jones was fast-tracked to the gridiron after both the starting Buckeyes quarterback and second-string quarterback sustained season-ending injuries. His career-starting game was the Big 10 championship against the Wisconsin Badgers where he led the team to victory in a shutout, 59-0. Then, his follow up performance happened at the All State Sugar Bowl Semi Final in which the Buckeyes beat the Alabama Crimson Tide 42-35. And last night, the Buckeyes won the national championship title by beating the Oregon Ducks 42-20.

This story is a prime example of the shifts in leadership that take place within an entity and reminds us that we always need to have a plan B...and C… and maybe D. With two quarterbacks ahead of him, it’s safe to assume that the Buckeyes wouldn’t have expected Jones to be on the field this year. Even so, the coaching committee prepared Jones and the team well for what could happen, and what did happen.

At ConvergenceCoaching, we talk a lot about succession – trying to get firms actively planning for succession, empowering their up-and-comers and preparing them for leadership, so that the appropriate procedures and people are in place for any expected or unexpected departures in the future. For example, our winter 2014 newsletter, Next Generation Strategies, discusses areas that each generation can improve to better collaborate with the other generations and our spring 2012 newsletter, Focus on Your Rising Stars, discusses the importance of developing those up-and-comers who will take on leadership positions in the future. We’re also set to release a brand new Succession Toolset* at the end of this month because the subject is so important and big, that it can be daunting – or still “far off” – and swept under the rug.

We challenge you to stop and ask these questions about your firm’s future leaders and succession plans:

  • Do we know the expected retirement dates of each of our partners?
  • Can we identify up-and-comers capable of filling their shoes?
    • And if not, are we a) determining whether our current employees possess leadership qualities and the desire to lead, (b) investing in development activities for them and c) actively recruiting top talent to fill that gap?
  • Do our up-and-comers know that they’re our seen as our future leaders?
    • And if not, why?
  • Do we have a clear transition process that helps us determine succession timelines for each of our retiring partners, when and how to transition clients to the new client owners, how to “fire” clients when we can’t continue to serve them, etc.?
  • Are we implementing the necessary learning tracks to ensure readiness of our future leaders?

In the case of the Buckeyes, Jones and his coaches knew he was in line for the position, even if he had one person in front of him, so it meant he had to train and practice for the day he would eventually be on the field. And it turned out to be much sooner –and higher profile – than expected. Jones has shown great leadership and ability under the pressure – both on the field and off and the team’s exceptional succession planning is evident.

What are you doing to invest in those on your bench? How are you preparing your up-and-comers for leadership? Do you feel like your firm has the necessary elements in place for when the time comes to transition? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!

Kind regards,


*Our Succession Toolset is set to be released at the end of January. If you’d like information for accessing the toolset once it’s available, please email me at brianna@convergencecoaching.com.