March 6

What JP Morgan Chase Can Teach Us About Succession Planning


What happens if the unthinkable happens?

If you ask a CEO, Business Owner, or Leader, what keeps them up at night? One answer on top of every leader’s list is, “what will happen to my business if the unthinkable happened to me?”  That worry became a reality for JP Morgan Chase CEO, Jami Dimon, as they rushed him to the hospital for emergency heart surgery.

Arguably one of the most influential leaders in the banking industry today, Diamon is recovering at a New York Hospital. While he is doing well, it is uncertain if and when he will return to work—leaving the business community to wonder who is at the helm at this particularly challenging time.

There is much to be learned from Jami Dimon’s leadership and how the crisis played out. This was not the first health scare the team at JP Morgan Chase has had to endure. In 2014, Dimon discovered he had throat cancer, from which he fully recovered. While no one knows his fate; his team, his stockholders, and the marketplace can rest easy knowing he had a succession plan.

The coronavirus, falling interest rates, and the impact of a possible slowdown of the global economy make consistent and steadfast leadership more important than ever for JP Morgan Chase and any business. Which should make all of us question, if what happened to Jami Dimon, could happen to us? If it did, what do we have in place? Suppose you suddenly had an emergency heart surgery, or got quarantined, or fell victim to some other fate? Would your business be okay? Would your team know what to do?

At the most basic level, a succession plan is a documented road map for partners, heirs, and successors to follow in the event of your disability, retirement, or even death.

3 Strategies Jami Dimon Used to Prepare For Emergency

1.Emergency Succession Plan:

Co-Presidents Daniel Pinto and Gordon Smith are currently managing JP Morgan Chase. The fact that there is already a team in place is the result of their effort.  All of this is part of an emergency plan Mr. Diamon developed, and his team affectionally calls the “In case Mr. Dimon gets hit by a bus plan.”

Under Dimon’s leadership, the team thought ahead, discussed ideas, and created a plan for an emergency.  When Dimon’s heart surgery happened, the leadership did not miss a beat. Everyone knew what to do, what to expect, and no time was lost trying to figure out priorities or next steps.

Succession planning is invaluable on so many levels. They decrease chaos and drama, both of which are productivity killers at any time. The plan ensures the team, the stockholders, and the public that business will continue as usual.

2. Transparent Communication:

The entire team of JP Morgan has been very open, honest, and transparent about Mr. Diamon’s condition. Key leaders of JP Morgan Chase have been public about the details of his surgery.  The leadership team shared who is managing the bank, the decision-making process, and the experience of key players as it relates to running the day-in-day-out operations of the bank. The team have shared all the answers and information they have, as well as being transparent about answers they do not have. Both of which are equally as important.

Communication is vital in times of transition and crisis, as people want to be kept in the loop. They don’t expect you to have all the answers; the power is just in sharing information.

3.Depth of Succession:

For the past few years, the board and team members of JP Morgan Chase under Diamon’s leadership, have been preparing for succession. Mr. Diamon says he is not ready to step down. Even so, this did not prevent Jami from developing a succession plan, creating a strategy, and ensuring the JP Morgan Chase had a deep leadership pool from which to choose.

In addition to the co-presidents running the bank in Diamon’s absence, are two other leaders high on the list of successors: Marianne Lake, who runs JPMorgan’s consumer-lending business, and Chief Financial Officer Jennifer Piepszak.

He is ensuring that no matter what happens, the depth of succession means that JP Morgan Chase will come out on top.

Time for Succession Planning is Now.

The challenge and fun of running a business is uncertainty. In today’s environment, the majority of things that could impact your success are actually outside of your control. No one can predict what the markets, competitors, or customers will do, or how technology changes or current health crises will impact your business.

The key to dealing with uncertainty is to focus on what you can control and make a succession plan. A plan as to what happens should something happen to you. It will outline who will lead the company and identify the level of depth of your leadership bench.

Who Comes Next: Leadership Succession Planning Made Easy

For more information and ideas on how to start your succession planning strategy, check out my latest book, Who Comes Next? Leadership Succession Planning Made Easy.

We are hosting a free webinar, sharing our proven succession planning process on March 19th at Noon EST: I’d like to invite you to join us – Visit the website to register. Registered attendees will get a bonus offer from us.



















Photo credit: Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co., in Washington in 2016. Getty Images

Meridith Elliott Powell

Voted one of the Top 15 Business Growth Experts to watch by Currency Fair, highly engaging corporate motivational keynote speaker Meridith Elliott Powell delivers a cutting-edge message, rooted in real-life examples and real-world knowledge. Meridith’s presentations are full of powerful content, highly interactive, and fun. She helps her clients learn the leadership development, sales and business growth strategies to turn uncertainty to competitive advantage.

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