Consider Succession Planning. I assume we agree that one of the most important responsibilities of a Board is selecting the next GM (or CEO, etc.). Thought I think it is important that the current Management leader has some input in the choice of the successor, I think it is critical that the Board has the actual final say in the matter — and not as a rubber stamo, mind you.
A GM (or CEO) successor can be found internlly or externally. Both approaches present advantages and challenges, and the choice of one or the other depends a lot on current organization culture and circumstances, as well as on the strategic outlook. The Board has a lot ridding on choosing a Management successor.
External selection can be effectively supported by way of an external HR consultant. As for an internal promotions, I think it is the duty of any Board to get to know the senior management team, at least down to the third layer where such a layering exists. By getting to know our Management people — there strengths and challenges –, a Board is all the better prepared to judge if someone on the inside is a proper fit for the top job when the time comes. And, as you may well know, that succession time can happen over a well planned out, one year process, or it can practically occur overnight. Be prepared.
A Board getting to know its senior management team down two or three layers is excellent practice in my opinion. Have these people do Board presentations. Meet them during social events. Have the CEO provide periodic reports about his leadershio team. If your GM or CEO isn’t open and confortable with this, then your Board has an issue to contend with right there, IMHO.