Does your company have an effective succession plan that has identified the next CEO and the one after that? Today’s leadership has the responsibility of hiring and training tomorrow’s leaders. Warren G. Bennis, an American leadership expert claims that “too many companies believe people are interchangeable. Truly gifted employees have unique talents that tend to be irreplaceable. Such individuals cannot be forced into roles for which they are not suited, nor should they be. Effective leaders allow talented employees to do the work they were born to do.”
A Challenging Question
Several years ago, my CEO made a challenge to his leadership team. He asked if he took the top 10% of individual performers from the organization to begin a new division, would the leaders have someone to backfill the top 10% of employee’s positions. Of course, the answer was no! Identifying and building a succession plan to train top performers is often a frightening task for executives who fear the associate will leave the organization or worse yet take over the leader’s position. In cases such as this, top performers are quite frequently hidden behind their supervisor’s work and taken for granted. A correct succession plan would identify these high performers and provide a strategy to encourage growth and retention of these future company executives.
The “Obvious” Solution
I remember a woman I hired with several years of work experience. I could tell she was a superstar right from the start. She wanted a manager role, but she just wasn’t ready for that much responsibility. I convinced her to accept a lower position after a tough negotiation. Within a year she was promoted to a manager and that same year she received a perfect employee engagement score from her staff. Two years later she was promoted to a Director. When traveling to a trade show, we ran into the CEO. I made a point of introducing her to the CEO as the future of my company. He smiled broadly and was delighted. Today, she continues to grow in her talents and is still with the company. I am grateful that I was able to assist in coaching her to the leader she is today. Whether she becomes the CEO of this company or another, I honestly believe she has the talent and fortitude to be a CEO one day.
A Fast Approaching Deadline
Sometimes valuable leaders lurk in the shadows of an organization. These are the individuals that are in the trenches doing a tremendous amount of work but lack acknowledgment or recognition by upper management, which kills their motivation to reach their full potential. Not recognizing future leaders in a company’s succession plan is unfortunate due to the future need for engaged leaders. A vast leadership vacuum is beginning to impact corporate cultures due to the retirement of over 10,000 people per day from the baby boomer era.
If you are ready to build a real succession plan to fortify your company’s future, check back next week to learn about how to create a “bulletproof” organization with effective succession planning.