Replacement of a Successful Leader : A Need for Succession Development

One of the greatest challenges that a organization faces is how to carry on business after a great leader steps down. The rebound time into new leadership is often not planned and usually suffers in lost productivity. Why don’t more organizations take the necessary steps or investment to develop the good rising players on the bench. In many cases, they are watching the promotion patterns and the investment of talent within the company will speak loudly of the commitment level to succession development.

The baby boomer generation is beginning to retire and the number of exits are happening more often. Loyalty in staying with the company for a long time is often overlooked. The up and coming leaders are watching what is measured and what gets rewarded.

I have seen so many great leaders leave without taking the time to really invest the time to prepare their direct reports to take their place. In many cases, direct reports have all the potential and work skills to assume this new role but are left wondering how they stand during the transition.

In a proper succession development model, assignments should include greater challenges which increase a broader range of experiences, builds confidence and also provides much needed company exposure that will brand their leadership ability. I have found that employees appreciate these challenges especially when they know you are preparing them for something greater.

In many cases, the senior leader may not take the time to develop his or her bench because of their resistance to share the lime light or maybe their own hands-on management style. This lack of development can also be related to the level of trust they are given. If trust is low – many times it is easier to just do it yourself.

Great leaders always find time to develop the leaders around them. Promoting one’s direct report is seen as a compliment.

Usually, an organization will promote from within if they are happy with the current direction or progress. However it can also be a time to bring in new ideas or direction that can take it to the next level. However, the pattern of past decisions will tell you what the company’s culture supports.

The best leaders realize it is critical to leave a stronger set of people in their wake. When this happens, the company usually remains productive during the transition. Do you have a succession development mindset?

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