Succession planning for public body boards: guidance

Guidance which seeks to help public bodies develop effective succession plans for their boards.

Roles and Responsibilities

This section outlines the usual roles and responsibilities of the key players involved, noting that not all appointments to Boards are made by Ministers; some members are directly elected or nominated by other bodies.

The Chair

  • Leads the Board's approach to succession planning to ensure that the Board is diverse and effective.
  • Effectively harnesses the diverse contributions that Board members make.
  • Establishes any Succession Planning Committee and seeks agreement of the Board for its terms of reference.
  • Regularly reviews, with members, Board work in relation to succession planning.
  • Ensures that Ministers and Scottish Government sponsors are aware of the needs of the Board and that Ministers' views are reflected in the Board's succession plan.
  • Keeps up-to-date with any developments in equality and diversity relevant to the work of the Board, circulating to Board members as appropriate.
  • Supports Board colleagues to overcome barriers and promotes a coaching/mentoring environment, including in relation to unsuccessful candidates.
  • Conducts Board member appraisals to establish whether existing and new Board members are fulfilling their potential; addresses development opportunities and poor performance to ensure Board's needs are met.
  • Leads the Board in its community engagement and other outreach activities, including those designed to encourage applications from people in currently underrepresented groups.

Board Members

  • Operate as role models and take part in relevant communications.
  • Are visible and use their contacts or networks to promote Board positions and the work of the Board.
  • Contribute ideas and reflections through individual appraisals and Board reviews.
  • Participate directly in succession planning activity such as being part of a selection panel or a member of any Succession Planning Committee.
  • Participate in community engagement and other outreach activities, including those positive action activities designed to encourage applications from people in currently underrepresented groups.

The Chief Executive

  • Advises the Board on the skills and other attributes required to support the delivery of the corporate plan and Ministerial priorities.
  • Harnesses appropriate executive support for designing and delivering the succession plan (e.g. HR, equality, communications leads).
  • Ensures that corporate communications in relation to community engagement and outreach activities are consistent with the brand and values of the body and with Ministerial aims for the Board to be reflective of society.
  • Is responsible for ensuring compliance with the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2016.


  • Set the policy and performance framework for public bodies.
  • Offer early input to thinking around succession and planning for appointments.
  • Where appropriate, agree the Board's succession plan in the context of the body's corporate plan.
  • Approve the appointments to Boards.
  • Promote the value that they place on effective and diverse Boards.
  • Build awareness of the work of Boards and encourage members of the public, particularly those from underrepresented groups, to apply for Board roles.

Sponsor Teams

  • Advise and support public bodies, their Boards and Ministers on the development of high quality Board succession plans.
  • Ensure that succession plans are shared as appropriate with Ministers.
  • Work with Boards to review and update succession plans in light of changing priorities and Board composition.
  • Facilitate appointment rounds with support from the Public Appointments Team.
  • Public Appointments Team
  • Provides support and guidance on appointments, including direct support for appointment rounds.
  • Shares intelligence from the Board's previous rounds, and learning and good practice from other appointment rounds, including positive action measures that can be taken on an ongoing basis.
  • Delivers a national outreach programme and work with Boards on bespoke outreach and community engagement events.

Public Bodies Unit

  • Provides advice and guidance around Board succession planning.
  • Organises networking and capacity-building events, and the sharing of good practice.


Email: Robert Boyter

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