McCormick's Successful Succession Plan

Robert Lawless made succession planning an integral part of his job before turning over the CEO reins to Alan Wilson. Here's how he did it

More companies should develop clear succession plans for the CEO job, as McCormick & Co. (MKC) did, says Robert Lawless. He just stepped aside after 11 years as chief executive officer of the Baltimore-based spice company, in favor of a successor who had been groomed for five years. Lawless, 60, became a nonexecutive chairman of the board as of Jan. 1 to make way for Alan Wilson, who is 49. Below are edited excerpts of a recent conversation with Lawless.

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