Leadership development and Succession Planning

October 11, 2017 by Wally Bock

Leadership development and succession planning are sometimes confused. Whatever it is, you know something has failed when a key executive leaves and there’s a scramble to figure out what happens next. Which internal candidate will get the job? Or, will we have to bring in someone from the outside? But is that a failure of leadership development or succession planning?

Leadership development and succession planning

It may seem like both kinds of programs are doing the same thing, but there’s a subtle difference. Leadership development definitions seem to me to concentrate on what skills are developed by aspiring leaders, in other words, equipping individuals to lead. Succession planning definitions mention company needs, filling leadership positions as the need arises.

The two activities are like two sides of the same coin. The leadership development side concentrates on individuals and skills. The succession planning side concentrates on current and anticipated company needs.

Making it work

Neither program is easy or short-term, if you do things right. The companies that do the best job of both, integrate the selection, development, and assignment of leaders with company strategy and regular activities. Both require lots of time and attention. They need to be part of the regular cadence of company life.

Leadership Development Reading

From CNBC: When a firm’s CEO resigns, like Equifax’s Smith, succession planning can be tricky

“CNBC takes a look at five business icons whose departure — past or future — from the firms they founded, financed or finessed have either posed succession-planning headaches for shareholders and boards or spurred them to designate and insinuate their heirs themselves.”

From Training Journal: Why an HCM system is the perfect platform for succession planning

“The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) defines succession planning as ‘the process of identifying and developing potential future leaders or senior managers, as well as individuals to fill other business-critical positions, either in the short or the long term’”

Wally Bock is a coach, a writer and President of Three Star Leadership.

Posted in Leadership Development

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