Succession planning is a common topic amongst our customers. The constant development of a leadership pipeline is a critical responsibility of every board of Directors. It’s an issue that is sometimes neglected in practice because other more immediate business challenges become more pressing.
According to a global study conducted by the Harvard Business Review, only 15% of companies in North America and Asia believe that they have enough qualified successors for key positions. In Europe, less than 30% of companies believe their talent pipeline is rich enough.
What does this mean to you? Are you part of the succession planning in your business? If you don’t know it doesn’t mean that you’re not part of your company’s future leadership plans but it does mean that you should find out if that’s where you want to be. As it seems that most companies are presently ill-equipped for tomorrow’s leadership challenges then opportunity certainly exists elsewhere. Do you know what characteristics, values and behaviours your company recognises in its future leadership candidates?
Planning for leadership succession and predicting future capability requirements is something that the best companies do no matter what, even (and especially) in turbulent economic trading conditions.
Effective talent programmes that seek to identify and attract high potential individuals use infrastructure to provide a rich pipeline from within and outside of the organisation. Companies such as Unilever, GE, PepsiCo, P&G and Shell have long been known for their careful attention to talent management. GE is perhaps one of the best examples of an organisation whose alumni is distributed throughout the corporate world in leadership roles. GE’s relentless focus on people and leadership development benefited many other companies as well as itself.
What these companies all have in common is the constant attention to the creation of a broad and deep pipeline of qualified leaders, some of whom develop into CEO candidates and take on the top leadership positions within the business. It is typical for these types of companies to be assessing their next generation of leaders against criteria that has been defined with clear strategic priorities. These goals
shape the way in which they seek
out and develop people for their top roles. It is something that is periodically re-examined and the pool of candidates refreshed. You should make it your business to understand what is required to be part of that recognised group of top performers, whether in your existing company or a within a new employer that you’re assessing.
There is a war for talent, but there is not even a scuffle or mild skirmish for average performers who lack the right drive, commitment and motivations. The top leadership roles don’t go to talented people, they go to talented people with the right values and character attributes that bring the best out of others to make things happen.
Organisations should never hide the high potential classifications or mystify the selection process. It is a delicate topic that requires openness. How an organisation continues to develop, reward and retain the potential within its business is an on-going process that should both challenge and motivate people to keep striving for success, rather than looking elsewhere. How engaged are your senior executives in the talent development debate and how often is this discussed?
If you want to be part of tomorrow’s success where you are then you should know what you have to do, otherwise maybe your future rests elsewhere… that is of course if you possess the right attributes.
About the author:
Allan Smith is a Managing Director of Pacific International Recruitment, the leading executive search firm for Operations and Technology Change in FMCG, Pharmaceutical and Bio Tech, Manufacturing and Engineering, Financial Services, Energy and Consulting across the UK, Germany, Europe, the USA, Russia and Asia.