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When we have other people dependent upon us in our personal lives, such as children, a significant other, or aging parents, it’s essential we develop contingency plans in case we’re not available, whether it’s for an afternoon or permanently.   

This includes planning for every type of contingency that can occur, thinking through and writing down how it can be mitigated, then using the plan as a back drop for the critical conversations that need to take place and as input to whatever documents are required.  

The issues that require this type planning aren’t limited to our personal lives, they occur in our professional lives and run the gamut from being double booked for two important meetings, taking a needed vacation, earning a well-deserved promotion, or being diagnosed with a long-term illness. 

We’ve all worked at more than one company where everything stops when the owner or CEO is not there. either because no one is empowered or has knowledge of the details necessary to proceed.

Contingency planning requires more than just developing a succession plan – it requires we take the time to develop our team and communicate with our team that we’re doing this on purpose.  

If we find ourselves in the position where we have to cancel a dentist appointment to go to a meeting, or if we forego a planned vacation because we have to be at work, we haven’t been successful in developing the necessary contingency plans.  Additionally, if we have a talented team member who we can’t promote because there’s no one on her team who can serve in her current position, we haven’t emphasized to our team the necessity of them putting the same type of plans in place.

Contingency planning is a responsibility we have to everyone in our personal and professional lives who’s counting on us – let’s not let them down.

Leah Ward-Lee is a management consultant and business writer based in Dallas, Texas and the author of $1,000 Start-Ups.  Her next book, The Executive’s Toolbox, will be released in 2017.