Growing Leadership Talent from Within
Succession planning, which identifies future potential leaders to fill key positions, feeds the need for organisations to develop high potentials and to meet the talent demands facing the firm. However, it is a complex, long term process which presents many challenges for current leaders to manage through. Not everyone in your organisation will have a high level of self awareness or board understanding of what it takes to evolve. Consequently, you may find talent that you do not want to lose, performing well at their current level but unlikely to be suitable for that next step. Leadership development is expensive, but not nearly as much so as hiring poorly from an external talent pool.
Identifying High Potentials
If management is about ensuring an organisation operates efficiently and against expectation, then leadership is about how that organisation pushes forward, creating more value for stakeholders. High potentials (HP’s) in your organisation understand this difference and while they may not possess the full tool box to deliver, there are several characteristics that mark HP’s out from other employees. HP’s are authentic, which means they are trustworthy, known for their integrity and when they say they will do it, they do it. They understand the value of vision and can inspire others to buy in to it, creating more value for the organisation from the activities that go on around them. HP’s stay calm under pressure, they do not lose their shape when faced with adversity. They are comfortable reaching out for support and ensure a sense of safety in the moment for those around them. Understanding the connections are important, HP’s will develop relationships with other function leaders and ensure that both parties benefit from those relationships.
Develop a Leader
Effective succession planning involves four primary stages, the first of which is to work out which are the mission critical positions to the business achieving its future objectives. Other factors to be considered are the specific expertise that the role holder will need to possess or the region in which that person will be based. Succession planning is a long term process and a HP’s personal interests and circumstances will change over time. The second stage in succession planning is to work out a detailed analysis of the competencies that will be required for success in the role. These can be influenced by external as well as internal circumstances, from technology to geopolitical change. Succession planning is of course a feature of overall workforce planning, but gap analysis tends to be much more personalised to the HP in the form of an individual development action plan and to the role being future planned. The third stage is to enable your development activities and engage your HP’s in action learning, job rotations, task force leadership and other high value learning programmes. HP’s are expected to stretch at a different pace to other employees and generally to function well at a level above their current command. The role of a mentor or coach to provide feedback and improve proficiency is invaluable during this period. The final stage it to make Succession Planning a Board Level discussion and to ensure continuous monitoring of results. Growing your leaders from within has many benefits but it is not without its difficulties, support and oversight from the top are essential to successful results.