Out of the many realities that always worry business leaders one is succession planning. We know that with all the uncertainties around us, there is one thing that is constant and that is change. The only way to plan for a better, efficient future for our organizations is a well-thought-out and structured succession plan.
Maybe for most of us, it is a cultural challenge to plan for leadership after us. But this is the only way we can secure a strong lineage and the continuity of business growth. It is crucial for an organization’s culture to develop and foster leaders that not only succeed but also exceed in leading the organization.
I would divide this into 4 key steps:
Building a Leadership Role Model That Others Follow
The most important point is to build a culture where people want to stay and grow old. There can be no succession planning in an organization where people don’t want to stay. Thus, keeping a tight rein on your culture and values is the key. Existing leaders must make every day of work a reflection of their values.
Culture becomes the strong foundation for employee engagement and retention – which is the cornerstone of succession planning. Build a culture where people are respected and where they feel they matter.
Leading With Trust and Fostering the Second Line
It is essential to support potential leaders to lead with passion, ownership, and a sense of belonging. Remember, leaders must be aligned with the overall goal and purpose of the organization. This can easily be seen when people lead projects, deliver on their goals, and handle change and challenges with composure.
As leaders, we must allow our people to innovate, make mistakes, and have the courage to own up and learn from them. It is also important to have a clearly defined and visual representation of roles and responsibilities in the organization for people to see where their future lies. Meet people one-on-one, understand their pain points, and listen to them.
Supporting Managers to Lead Their Teams
Once people are in managerial roles of leading other people, they display all the necessary strengths and skills of leadership. Keep an eye on day-to-day operations from a distance. It is important to see how these people prioritize goals and work with their team. How do these managers support their people – do they understand when help is needed?
Are they being mentors and coaches or are they jumping in with solutions curbing the growth of their people? It is crucial to see how they give or take feedback- do they consider employees more than mere workers – as people whose lives they touch?
Giving Managers Space to Lead the Organization
And lastly plan when you will step aside, giving the leaders the space to lead the organization without a jerk or shock – a smooth transition into the next phase. Appreciate people for what they bring to the larger purpose. Discuss the vision of the organization and make it an everyday reality. A key point for the success of the leadership pipeline is the readiness of the manager and the agility of the leader to move on.
There is also a crucial stage to be considered which is when there is no internal candidate for the pipeline or when the identified candidate is not interested. These are real challenges that the board or the top management always has to be ready to deal with.
What always helps is keeping lines of communication, transparency, trust, and dialogue open. Being transparent always leads to better planning and opportunities that can be identified to further build credibility and engagement.
Succession planning is a collaborative process – it is a rewarding experience as it allows for the leaders to work together and plan for the advancement of their teams. Having something specific to work toward is highly motivating and having talented and engaged employees are rewarding for both the individual and the organization.