Gongol.com Archives: May 2024

Brian Gongol


May 17, 2024

News The virtue of continuity

After a transformational season culminating in a record-setting championship game, the University of Iowa's head women's basketball coach, Lisa Bluder, has announced her retirement. Having helped to expand the profile of the sport behind a phenomenal player, Bluder exits into a smooth transition: Seeing her long-time assistant elevated to head coach. ■ Lots of organizations -- businesses, universities, non-profits, school districts, teams, and others -- are enamored with conducting big, splashy recruitment searches. Even police departments do it. Performing a baton pass to an obvious successor is often viewed as being too dull a step to make the kind of splash that stakeholders may want. ■ But grooming a logical successor is exactly the mark of a good leader -- one who is confident enough to say that the institution will survive their departure. It's what Warren Buffett has conspicuously done in business, and what Johnny Carson erroneously thought he was doing with the "Tonight Show". ■ To groom a successor is to acknowledge one's own limitations (including, but not limited to, mortality) and to implicitly promise that their work will focus not just on what brings credit and praise to the person in the spotlight, but on what perpetuates the good of the institution. That takes a convergence of humility and self-confidence, as well as a sincere belief in the process. ■ Outside of a monarchy, it often isn't splashy to cultivate and elevate an heir apparent. But if institutions matter (and they do), then continuity ought to be the goal far more often than not.


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