Succession Planning From Moses

Founding CEO’s of successful organizations live within two constant realities: 1) they have made their dream into a reality, and 2) they must eventually hand their dream off to someone else. Succession planning is scary for any leader because it can threaten their influence and security, (deVries, 1988, p. 25) and for a founding leader it can cause even more anxiety, especially since research reveals many organizations do not survive their second CEO. (Haveman, 2004) Regardless, the reality is that succession will happen, and unless it is handled properly, the dream that has become a reality may become a memory. (Gilmore, 1988)

The key to succession planning is effective mentoring by the leader in order to hand things off smoothly. Mentoring is “establishing a relationship when an experienced mentor works to further the personal and professional growth of a protégé who is less experienced”. (Sosik, 2005)

A look at Joshua 1:1-18 reveals five principles of succession planning from the relationship between Moses and Joshua.

First, leaders must understand God is in charge of succession. The choice of successor ultimately remains in the hands of God to fulfill his purposes through his chosen leaders. (Beery, p. 2)

Second, leaders must recognize and develop emerging leaders. (Rothwell, 2005) Leaders need to know the competencies necessary for the next leader to be successful. (Metz, 1998)

Third, leaders must personally mentor emerging leaders. Personal mentorship by the existing leader often trumps programmatic training. (Ready, 2007)

Fourth, leaders must recognize their personal limitations. This recognition can overcome the insecurity mentoring may produce, and wise leaders recognize it is better to hand off leadership before they are forced to. (Beery, p.2)

Finally, leaders must share leadership. God instructed Moses to share his authority with Joshua (Nu. 27:20), which it takes a strong leader to share authority. (Beery, p. 2)


Beery, K. (2009). Moses-Joshua Succession From Joshua 1:1-18. Enrichment Journal, Vol. 97(Iss. 2), pp. 97.

Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: study Bible: English standard version (ESV text ed). Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles.

De Vries, M. F. R. K. (1988). The Dark Side of Ceo Succession. Management Review, 77(8), 23.

Gilmore, T. N. (1988). Making a leadership change: How organizations and leaders can handle leadership transitions successfully. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Haveman, H. A., & Khaire, M. V. (2004). Survival Beyond Succession? The Contingent Impact of Founder Succession on Organizational Failure. Journal of Business Venturing, (19), pp. 437–463.

Metz, E. J. (1998). Designing Succession Systems for New Competitive Realities. Human Resource Planning, Vo. 21(Iss. 3), pp. 31–37.

Ready, D. A., & Conger, J. A. (2007). Make Your Company A Talent Factory. Harvard Business Review, Vol. 85(Iss. 6), pp. 68–77.

Rothwell, W. J. (2005). Effective Succession Planning: Ensuring Leadership Continuity and Building Talent from Within (3rd ed.). New York, NY: AMACOM.

Sosik, J. J., Lee, D., & Bouquillon, E. A. (2005). Context and Mentoring: Examining Formal and Informal Relationships in High Tech Firms and K-12 Schools. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 12(2), 94–108.

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