Soon after he joined Whirlpool as corporate vice-president and CIO, David Butler says he began thinking about succession planning.

“One of the key responsibilities of a leader is to make sure they are building an organization of leaders,” he said.

Butler learned the importance of succession planning in one of his first supervisory roles during his 31-year tenure at Dow Chemical Co. His manager at the time told him: “To continue to grow in this organization, you’ve got to be able to assume the next job, and you’ve got to have someone clearly ready to do your job.”

What follows are Butler’s tips for finding and grooming successors, based on Whirlpool’s own succession planning process.

  1. Start looking early on.
  2. Identify people who are risk-takers, but who also demonstrate integrity, interpersonal skills and a desire to learn and grow.
  3. Zero in on what further development potential successors would need to assume the CIO role.
  4. Inform potential successors that they are candidates, and that if they continue their development, they would be considered for the job.
  5. Share your recommendations on potential successors with the executive committee.


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