Succession Planning – Hey Exec! You’ve got to do YOUR part!

Succession Plans are Just That… Plans. They still need EXECUTION.

Succession plans and leadership development efforts are useless if the targeted executive doesn’t step up and do his/her part.

This is an interesting and pertinent topic, as succession planning is a significant part of my practice, and by “planning” I mean “managing expectations” as well. I’ve crafted numerous, detailed succession plans before, complete with developmental roadmaps, years-to-ready” charts, and well-plotted charts for high-potential employees.

None of it is worth a squat if that earmarked, high-performing executive doesn’t do his or her part.

Just as supporting material, I wrote an article for The Journal of Quality and Participation entitled, “Next in Line: Real Succession Planning.”

First, what makes succession planning and/or execution a big deal anyway?

1. The war for talent rages on – we can’t continue to count on hiring to bail us out,
2. Successfully developed managers are better leaders, even if the succession plan isn’t engaged, and
3. You can’t have a long-term view of growth and a short-term look on leadership. You just can’t.

Now, for the executive wanting to really demonstrate readiness, I’d recommend the following (I’m assuming the executive knows clearly what the new job entails):

1. Meet people, and help where you can. Expand your scope of influence, in a helpful way. Sit down with Marketing, if that’s not you, and find out what you can do to support them. Be sincere – other executives today can smell a hidden agenda a mile away.

2. Make sure you aren’t so indispensable as to be immovable. Intentionally and proactively train and develop someone to step in for you should you be called up. I’ve seen many, many promotions derailed – or at least frustratingly delayed – until a replacement for the potential promote could be developed (or hired).

3. Most importantly, do your current job, and do it damned well. Be the best. Make sure you are fulfilling current expectations, responsibilities, and accountabilities. It must be clear to all, both above and ‘below’ your spot in the organizational food chain that you are the right person for the job, or at least, not the wrong choice.

Then, our well-conceived plan came “come together.”

Make it so, number one.

But that’s just me…