The Great Leadership Development and Succession Planning Kit:A Book Review

I imagine most of you are familiar with Dan McCarthy and his insightful blog, Great Leadership. I also know that many of you are also bloggers, who, like me, have aspirations of “some day” turning your posts into a brilliant and useful book. Dan has done just that in his e-book, The Great Leadership Development and Succession Planning Kit. It turns out that 500 well-written posts, woven together carefully, can lead to an insightful, practical, and witty “how-to” guide for identifying potential and developing great leaders.

I’ve been on all sides of the succession planning and leadership development process, from developing tools and programs, to facilitating talent review sessions to being the topic of such discussions and “rotational assignments.” I was impressed by the depth and applicability for people working in any of these capacities. If you are an executive starting to build a program, you can easily save significant time and money with the head-starts he provides here. For HR practitioners and consultants, there are rich tools and practical guides you can use with or without adaptation. And, if you are leader at any level, in any box on the proverbial “grid,” this read provides insider insights as well as specific development content.

It’s organized into 4 sections: the foundation, succession planning, development, and leadership skills.

The Foundation

He begins with a compelling argument for why companies must invest in a strategic and deliberate approach to succession planning. He then shares models that fit various budgets and cultures. His four-stage leadership development model is easy to follow.

Succession Planning

He shares practical help on talent profiles and critical positions, and his humor resonates of a man whose seen just one too many talent review sessions, The 10 Dysfunctional Characters at a Talent Review Meeting, It turns out, I’ve met all those characters.


He includes a plethora of tools, from on-boarding to executive education. For fun, he throws in some cool stuff like “20 Great Leadership Development Movies.”

Leadership Skills

So once you’ve selected someone or been selected as a target for development, what’s next? Here’s where Dan comes in with the practical advice like “Lipstick on a Pig: 10 Ways to Improve Executive Presence” and “18 Financial Terms Every Leader Should Know.” My own development plan must be on track since “financial acumen” is always on my plan (I prefer to surround myself with finance-types, rather than have to face too many spreadsheets), but I found I can use every one of his 18 terms in a complete sentence. Quick, someone call my boss before the next talent review.

Why Buy the Book?

So, why buy the book when you can get the posts for free? I love Dan’s site, and particularly enjoy his Carnivals where he brings together the perspective of so much great leadership thinking. It is much more efficient to have him do all the work for you, to organize what you need in an easy to use way. Simple and funny? Priceless.

About Dan

Dan McCarthy is the Director of Executive Development Programs (EDP) at the University of New Hampshire. He writes the award-winning leadership development blog Great Leadership and the new ebook, The Great Leadership Development and Succession Planning Kit.

Dan is consistently ranked as one of the top digital influencers in leadership and talent management.

You can contact Dan at


Posted in Career & Learning and tagged , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, Founder of Let’s Grow Leaders, helps leaders around the world achieve breakthrough results, without losing their soul. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she has over two decades of experience in sales, customer service, and HR. She was recently named on Inc's list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers and American Management Association's 50 Leaders to Watch. She’s the author of 3 books: Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul, Overcoming an Imperfect Boss, and Glowstone Peak.

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