How to Find and Train Future Leaders
Not only can great leaders double a company’s profits, they’re costly to replace. Combine that with the realizations that the average C-suite tenure has shrunk to just 5.3 years and 10,000 Baby Boomers retire each day, and you can see why strategic succession planning is more important than ever.
But to do it right, you’ve got to know how to recognize a future leader. If you’re not sure, check out this list of effective ways to identify high-potential people in your organization.
Decide What Roles, Talents Matter Most
Work with your Human Resources team to list the most crucial roles in the company. Then zero in on what leadership styles, skills or talents are most important to each role’s success. Creativity will likely be high on your must-have list for Chief Marketing Officer successors, for instance.
When putting your lists together, keep these leadership traits in mind:
Don’t Sleep on Soft Skills
Traits of a good future leader include solid communication and emotional intelligence. Bottom line numbers matter, of course, so don’t forget that 90 percent of top performers have a high EQ.
Keep an Eye Out for Raised Hands
Great leaders display a clear investment in your company’s future. They toss new ideas and thoughts on improvement into the mix, often without being asked.
What do you want the company to look like in five years—or ten? Keep that in mind when you’re listing out leadership traits and competencies.
Once you know what roles you’re looking to backfill, it’s time to identify high-potential people. While it may be tempting to look for fresh faces outside the company walls, the better succession planning strategy is to stack your leadership deck with internal talent.
After all, your current roster is already armed with the institutional knowledge of processes, systems, structure, and culture to hit the ground running. Plus, it costs less to promote from within.
Try Predictive Assessment
Once you’ve got a short list in mind, you might try predictive assessment. These tools not only spotlight high-potential people, they can help you discover folks with soft skills, as well as eliminate the tendency of leaders to select successors who are just like them.
Most assessments examine an employee’s behaviors on the job—both past and present—as well as why they behave a certain way. They should also be able to tell you what roles a person will thrive in or wither in.
No matter the endeavor, if your leadership team isn’t on board with your plans, disaster is likely on the horizon. Make sure any future leaders you’ve identified for succession aren’t about to walk to plank. Get sign off from your leadership team on your succession planning strategy well before you put it into action.
Amp Up Training
Don’t wait until your Chief Financial Officer for the last decade announces his retirement to start training his replacement. Skip the headaches and get a head start. As soon as you have a successor in mind, get them into regular meetings, job shadowing and any formal leadership training your organization offers.
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