The Dalai Lama Succession Plan

Did you see – the Dalai Lama is resigning!  How would you like to be in charge of that succession plan?!

From the Economist:

AFTER six decades as the living emblem of Tibetans in exile from Chinese-ruled Tibet, the Dalai Lama prepared on March 14th to present his resignation from all “formal authority”…

This might seem untimely, given Tibet political predicament. Talks between the Chinese government and the Tibetan exiles are badly stalled. The Dalai Lama himself, though in good health, is now 75 years old.  The question of his succession is perennial, and thorny, when it comes between China and the exile government. Last week, Padma Choling, the Chinese-appointed governor of Tibet, made the dumbfounding assertion that the Dalai Lama must follow the tradition of reincarnation and cannot choose his successor…

The Dalai Lama expected resistance and he addressed that too. “I trust that gradually people will come to understand my intention, will support my decision and accordingly let it take effect,” he entreated. Even if he the Dalai Lama is ready for this move, most Tibetans are not. The Kashag may well reject his formal resignation. But he has made his intention clear.

I love this – for the simple fact – the Dalai Lama resigning – to try and move on at 75 years of age – isn’t really that dissimilar to every type of resignation/retirement of any star executive or leadership in every organization.  Here’s how it works in corporate America:

1. The company argues that timing couldn’t be worse, and implores the leadership to stay on “just a bit” longer – usually 1 more year.

2. The organization takes that next year disagreeing on who/how/what should be the plan for succession – without ever making a decision.

3. The person eventually just leaves, usually out of the  frustration of having worked an additional 3 years past his “resignation” with still no decision.

4. The organization hastily appoints an “interim” leader.

5. 6 months later they find out that the organization can survive and the “interim” tag is removed – and we start the cycle all over again.

Let’s face it – if the Tibetan people can move on past the Dalai Lama – your organization can move past your CEO of the last 20 years!

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