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Leadership Today - Practical Tips For Leaders

Oct 13, 2023


Moving on to a new role is a whole lot smoother when you have someone ready to replace you. This week we walk through the key steps to developing a leadership succession plan.



Hello and welcome to episode 205 of the Leadership Today podcast where each week we share practical tips to improve your leadership. This week we walk through the key steps to developing a leadership succession plan.

Moving on to a new role is a whole lot smoother when you have someone ready to replace you. All too often though we look for a change of role, and then have to rush finding a replacement or miss the chance to handover altogether. With some forward planning and effort we can ensure that leadership succession is smooth, fair, and well executed.

Step 1 is to identify potential successors. An important point here is that the successor to your role doesn’t necessarily have to come from your team. You will want to work with your own leader and others across the organisation to identify potential successors early. This could be based on performance evaluation data, 360 degree feedback, and other records. Potential successors don’t need to be ready to do your job today. In fact. It’s highly unlikely that anyone will be able to make a direct transition into your role without some development. Look instead for people who may have demonstrated performance or potential related to your role. Even if they’re 70% of the way to being able to do your role, with time you are likely to be able to bridge that gap.

Step 2 is to create individual development plans. These should be put together in consultation with individuals. There’s not much point considering someone as a successor for your role if they’re not interested in the role. Some people may be happy at their current level, or they may be looking for quite a different opportunity in the future. Individual development plans and discussions should include career planning. Identify any gaps the individual may have for taking on your role and other identified potential roles.

Step 3 is to provide development opportunities. Here we are working with the person to fill their development gaps. We often default to training courses, but development gaps are often best filled through stretch assignments and projects, mentoring and coaching. Look for opportunities to build their development into the work itself.

Step 4 is to test the succession plan. Here we want the individual to have a chance in the role itself. You can have potential successors step up into your role while you’re away, or work alongside you on a project. Keep in mind that the person may want to do things differently to you, so provide freedom to make the role their own where that’s possible..

A leadership succession plan is a great way to help you, the person who will take over your role, and your organisation to be successful.


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