Leadership Competency and Succession Planning

by: Dean Fulford

Is your organization’s leadership development process just putting managers into leadership positions to meet succession planning objectives, or are you developing individuals who can truly move the business forward?

Organizations strive to have great leaders in our most critical roles.  An effective succession planning process is a great way to identify talent for those roles. Unfortunately, many traditional succession planning processes look to nominate someone who can ‘take over’, without well thought-out development plans to ensure they are truly ready. Development of technical or functional competency muse be complimented with experiential learning that provides opportunities to lead.

Why is that? Because leadership is a process, not a position.

Four Profiles of Leadership Development Competency

Think about the different people you have reported to over your career. Do any of these profiles ring true? Each profile represents an increasing level of leadership development competency:

  • The ‘boss’. They are given a “manager “ job title and use it to influence others. This type of leader relies on rules and policies to direct others. They aren’t building teams, but creating workers. Most employees under this type of leader work solely within the boundaries of their roles.
  • The person others want to work with. They rely on encouraging others to be successful, in order to be successful themselves. This type of leader is investing in understanding the people around them and their strengths, and is using those strengths to achieve the required team outcomes.
  • The highly productive team lead. They are the one known to get things done, by building on the great relationships created within their team and taking them to a new level of effectiveness. This type of leader is learning how to translate the organization’s strategy into tangible outcomes for each team member; giving direction and decision-making to each person.
  • The developer of others. These leaders develop others in their image, to be great leaders in their own right. They create sustainable competitive advantage for their organization. They are recruiting the best people possible, placing them in positions that enable them to use their strengths, and equip and empower them to do their job well… then stands back!

Leadership is a process. Competence as a leader is demonstrated with increased level of impact on those around the person ‘in charge’. Your succession planning process should include active participation to gain the organizational commitment to allow for the ‘whole’ development of these successors.

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