4 Keys to Getting Your Next Set of Leaders Ready to Lead

4 Keys to Getting Your Next Set of Leaders Ready to Lead
Facebook Twitter Email LinkedIn

Ready, Set, Jump: Is Your Next Set of Leaders Ready to Lead?
We know how challenging it can be when you’re besieged by urgent and important problems to set time aside to think and plan for future talent management success. Savvy talent leaders know this and whenever they talk about getting the next set of leaders ready to lead they explicitly:

  • Tie succession planning to the current and future strategic priorities of the business
  • Focus on building “must have” skills and competencies across the organization
  • Emphasize future leadership needs to meet critical future business requirements
  • Measure impact throughout the process

Thoughtful, forward-looking succession planning is a must for organizations looking to ensure that there is a next set of leaders ready to lead based upon the challenges that you face.

Successful Succession Plans
The goal of an effective succession plan is to be primed to put the right people in the right place at the right time to achieve your strategic goals – both now and in the future. This means that you need to (1) define the critical roles and positions that matter most, (2) agree upon the skills and leadership qualities needed to succeed in those roles, and (3) identify and assess high potential leadership candidates best qualified for those positions.

The goal of succession planning should not be to simply identify potential successors, but also to create customized development plans to ensure that when opportunities become available, you will have “ready now” candidates for any given position.  The most basic leadership succession questions revolve around:

  • Do you know with confidence where your up-and-coming talent is in the organization?
  • Have you thought through how to engage and retain your HIPOs for the long run?
  • Are you proactively planning for succession in key leadership roles?
  • Who has potential to move into a higher roles and how should they be developed?
  • Are any long-tenured leaders blocking the career path for others?
  • Which positions make good rotational or stretch assignments?
  • Have you created success profiles for key leadership positions?

4 Keys to Getting Your Next Set of Leaders Ready to Lead
To achieve a smooth transition of power, beware of the following shortcomings as you try to get the next set of leaders ready to lead:

  1. Being Proactive with Top Talent
    The time to begin succession planning is way before a key person announces that they are leaving. For every critical role in your organization, you need to be actively developing candidates to be next in line. In other words, you need a proactive and healthy succession pipeline for developing the next generation of leaders.

    Are you consistently identifying critical roles, defining success profiles for each, and investing the time to assess and develop high potential leadership candidates for those positions?
  2. Focusing on Future Performance and Potential
    An employee’s current stellar performance in one role may not be a sign of future performance in another. The skills and behaviors that allow an employee to shine in one role are not necessarily what is needed in the next. Different skills and attitudes are required to successfully lead at different levels.

    Is your leadership pipeline evaluation future focused enough?
  3. Using a Proven Assessment Process to Identify Strengths and Areas for Development
    There are multiple data-driven tools available to help you evaluate candidates for your succession pipeline. Use them. Your key personnel decisions should be based upon fair and predictive leadership performance and potential data.

    Are you taking an objective view of people’s strengths, weaknesses, learning agility, potential, and motivations so that you can set them up for future success?
  4. Underestimating the Importance of a Smooth Leadership Transition
    More than one-third of leaders report high levels of stress when they transition to their new role.  The longer (e.g., more than 90 days) it takes a leader to feel comfortable and confident in their new role, the greater risk of employee disengagement.  If your succession planning process does not provide enough transition support (e.g., mentoring, coaching, and clear performance expectations), you are putting your new leaders and their teams at risk.

    Do you have a robust enough leadership transition process in place for your new leaders?

The Bottom Line
85% of leaders report receiving no training prior to switching into their new role, and 60% underperform during their first two years. Over the long term, smooth leadership transitions can make the difference between success and failure. Make getting your next set of leaders ready a high priority.

To learn more about ensuring that your new leaders succeed, download 6 Traps That Can Sabotage Success as a Leader or 5 Key Succession Planning Trends and Lessons from the Field

Evaluate your Performance


Get key strategy, culture, and talent tools from industry experts that work


Health Checks

Assess how you stack up against leading organizations in areas matter most



Download published articles from experts to stay ahead of the competition



Review proven research-backed approaches to get aligned



Stay up to do date on the latest best practices that drive higher performance


Client Case Studies

Explore real world results for clients like you striving to create higher performance