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Dr. Frederica Hendricks-Noble


This study examined sudden leadership loss and the importance of succession planning in behavioral health. The organization at the center of the study is located in the midwestern United States and is known for providing stellar services to its clients and fostering a quality workspace for its employees. The findings provided the organization with a clear and specific understanding of the value of succession planning for sustainability. The study was conducted using a qualitative research method. Semistructured interviews with 5 senior-level leaders from a single site location provided the primary source of data. Additional data were collected from the organization’s current and historical policies and procedures. The following themes emerged as a result of the study: communication, professional development, employee resistance, leadership support, and work environment. Findings from this study revealed that the organization lacked formal succession-planning strategies during a time of leadership loss. Further findings supported how the lack of succession planning impacted the performance of the affected project team and the quality of services provided. Implications from this study reveal how similar behavioral health organizations can plan for change and unexpected leadership loss. This study’s findings can contribute to social change by helping leaders of behavioral health organizations create work environments that value strategic succession planning, employee development, and information sharing.

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