June 25, 2021
Leadership Succession Planning In A New Era
Is your top talent up to the challenge?
With the ongoing backdrop of the Covid pandemic still a significant factor for organisations, over the past year leadership succession planning is increasingly being brought into focus.
The decisions around succession that are being taken now will define the future course of organisations.
Changes will ensue across many organisations as leaders who have underperformed leave, those that have excelled could stay or they could also be poached given their value to another organisation. Some leaders who were due to retire could now do so having deferred their retirement to lead their organisations through the period of crisis.
Of course, all the above are to be expected, but it has been exacerbated in the current environment, where the importance of leadership decisions is magnified and the direction that is decided now defines the success of the organisation in the short term where new opportunities will exist.
Given the pandemic is now 18 months old what is surprising is the overall lack of preparedness of many organisations to effectively plan and execute their talent management and succession activities.
Data collected from both private and public companies estimates that only 40-50% of companies surveyed have put into place robust leadership succession planning. Given the risk that failing to manage succession poses to the ongoing health and performance of the organisation, it is startling to see that so many organisations are not addressing it.
Developing a leadership succession plan – 10 things to consider
Leadership succession planning should be an organisational priority and our experience in executive search would suggest that the following are the most important steps to be taken in order to add the most overall value to the organisation.
- Proactivity – Get on the front foot and undertake a thorough assessment of the internal talent pipeline. This must be holistic and comprehensive to be effective and allow for informed decisions to be made.
- Align – Build the succession and talent plan around the business goals.
- Individual development – Engage with the identified employees and manage their development.
- Talent & succession planning – Identify gaps in the talent pipeline you have and amend your talent acquisition strategy.
- Contingency planning – Have a solution for a sudden departure of a key individual, minimising the impact this will have on the organisation.
- Equality, diversity and inclusion – Use the succession plan as an opportunity to address ED&I and ongoing talent planning.
- Stakeholder management – Keep key stakeholders appraised and engaged in the succession planning process.
- Talent evolution – Remain aware of the changing requirements the organisation has from its leaders. A major crisis such as Covid can fundamentally alter the type of leaders that are needed.
- Be prepared to adapt your plan
- Leadership support – the first 6-12 months are critical in determining the success of a new leader whether they be an internal or external appointment.
What’s stopping you developing a succession plan strategy?
At the crux of all of this is the simple objective of having the right leader in the right role at the right time. This is proven as a key determinant of the future success of any organisation.
One of the greatest obstacles to a greater uptake in succession planning has been the gap between intent and reality. Whilst most leaders recognise the absolute importance of having a succession plan in place, only a minority believe they do it well or with the requisite commitment and skill needed to deliver the outcomes sought. It seems that many companies are essentially avoiding succession planning altogether or are leaving succession planning questions unanswered until the issues of succession are upon them. This lack of preparedness can put organisations back many years.
It is imperative for boards to become proactive and confront the challenge of succession, ensuring they secure the ability for the company to prosper by having robust and adaptable plans in place.
To discuss your executive and non-executive leadership requirements, please get in touch.