When I start thinking about succession planning and the future leaders of the business world, a familiar Shakespearean quote comes to mind: “Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness and others have greatness thrust upon them.” Wouldn’t the easiest way to help our future leaders “be not afraid of greatness”, be to prepare them for that greatness? That way, whether their greatness is innate, achieved, or thrust upon them, they’re ready, willing and able to handle the burden. Businesses today must be intentional about their succession planning. They don’t let greatness be thrust upon just anyone. They hand pick their future leaders and give them all the tools necessary to succeed.
The first step in successful succession planning is to identify the scope and domain of all management positions. This helps to clearly define the management roles as well as the ideal type of manager for each role. Once all of the different leadership roles have been identified, you can start to pick one or two employees who might fit well into those roles. The candidates should then start being prepped for their potential roles. Take a look at their current skills and start developing any that they may need to use in the future. Make sure they gain experience in the areas that they may be overseeing. Have them sit in on some decision making meetings. Start pushing down authority as soon as you think they can handle it. Practice makes perfect. Why not give every leader as much practice as you can?
Not only will this system help ensure the success, or “greatness”, of your future leaders, but it also gives the added bonus of providing the company with a contingency plan. Should something happen to your current leadership, you already have someone ready and willing to step up. If you’re already prepared for the unexpected, it’s no longer unexpected!