Build Your Leadership Pipeline
Today’s business news is full of stories about companies that go outside to hire the “Superstar CEO” and end up disappointed. In some cases, they’re even left devastated by the consequences of the decision. However, Disciplined Leaders get that the best hires often come from within their organizations. More importantly, they make it a practice to proactively build the leadership pipeline through succession planning. If you create the right strategies to do this, you’ll positively impact your company’s performance and employees. Your hires will tend to stick around and want to work for you, while the company itself will be less vulnerable because you’ve got a plan in place for ensuring quality leaders. It’s a win-win for all…you, your people, and your organization at large.
Here are three steps for building that leadership pipeline:
Step #1: Identify your vulnerabilities. How often do business leaders get caught by surprise when an “A player” suddenly gives notice? It happens all the time, even to the best of leaders. And it can happen to you. So to minimize the consequences of such an unexpected inevitable, carefully examine where you have current or potential job openings in leadership positions but no current plan for filling those gaps. For example, if a key player were to leave, who—if anyone—could fill that void? If you don’t have someone in line and perhaps waiting, that’s the kind of gap you’ll need to address.
Step #2: Evaluate needs. Hopefully, even if you don’t have someone directly in line for that potential key position, there’s someone who, with a certain level of training or development, could become that next “A player.” So figure out what necessary tools, skills, competencies or experiences will get that person ready for the position should the opportunity arise. It may be taking a computer skills class or providing some coaching on public speaking, for example. In MAP’s new book, “The Disciplined Leader,” I tell the story about how one of our clients saved significant amounts of time, money and energy by developing an employee’s weakness rather than replacing that individual altogether. This is much the same concept. A little investment upfront in the right employee can lead to big savings and net big rewards.
Step #3: Make planning for professional development a priority. When it comes to developing your people, don’t just haphazardly sign them up for a class here or there or tell them what they have to do. Create a do-able plan with that individual and take it seriously. Sit down and discuss the goals of the plan, the strategies, and the accountability that will be involved. Remember, building up the pipeline will be an investment on your end, so you want to make sure you’ve got the formal process and coaching that supports it. Doing this will boost the odds of that person’s ownership in the process and its success, plus keep them loyal and committed to you!
How are you handling succession planning in the event YOU suddenly are no longer the leader?