Football teams plan ahead for injuries to their players but usually not for the departure of their head coach. One result: teams often have trouble succeeding even with great replacements. Many companies set themselves up to fail because they aren’t developing replacements for their top leaders. You can’t start cultivating senior leaders at the last moment, just like you can’t start cultivating a garden the day before you want to harvest.
To read the rest of this article from the East Bay Business Times, see: Develop new leaders now or risk your company’s future http://eastbay.bizjournals.com/eastbay/stories/2005/01/17/smallb5.html
RHR International, management psychologists who help leaders develop new leaders, surveyed more than 100 Fortune 500 companies and found that:
- In the next five years there will be a huge exodus of senior talent. Half the companies anticipated losing half their senior staff.
- 57 Percent of companies have been developing high-potential talent for three years or less.
- 75 Percent have low confidence in their ability to meet their growth needs through internal leadership develop.
The cost of putting off leadership development is huge. Instead of a thorough program to find and develop the best people, frantic attempts to fill voids will require accelerated searches at premium prices. Hasty replacement of senior leaders usually means fielding a team that isn’t adequately prepared to work together. High failure rates cascade problems into every area of the company.
Inadequate succession planning can damage any company, big or small. But my experience is that the problems are magnified at small and mid-sized companies because there’s usually less room for error.
- Teenage Thinking: They’re invulnerable; don’t care about what happens after they move out; and are shortsighted - too busy and too cheap to spend money on tomorrow.
- The Ostrich Philosophy: I’ll deal with it more easily later or it’ll take care of itself. But, just like putting off health care, most people will pay dearly when it’s too late for preventative medicine to be effective.
The most important factor in successful programs is the personal involvement of leaders. Other crucial factors are:
- Constantly scout for new talent. Make your effort intentional and integral to your daily activities. Find who sparked successful projects, rallied people and brought in fresh thinking. Ask other senior leaders, “How do we round them out and who’s going to work personally with whom?”
- Follow selection of high potential candidates with a systematic, individualized program to help them learn crucial leadership qualities you’ve identified.
- Act as a model, not merely a repository of information. Technical skills, information and today’s correct answer are not enough to develop people capable of leading your enterprise.
- Be present and clear. Brief potential leaders up front what you want them to demonstrate. During development, include them in the inner circle of your thought processes; teach them how to ask the right questions; give them immediate, timely, specific feedback. Debrief formally.
- Have pride in leaving a personal legacy. Successful transitions are usually directed by leaders who want to be remembered for building a company that’s prepared to thrive without them, not for leaving their babies exposed to the elements. Plug-and-play, mobile CEOs usually don’t have the emotional investment required for intensive mentoring.
Spend a little now to build the next generation of senior leaders or you might lose the farm paying the bill later.
Often, individuals need coaching and organizations need consulting to help them design and implement a plan that fits the situation. To get the help you need, call Ben at 1-877-828-5543.