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Brain circuits

Four ways to create tomorrow’s leaders today

Published 2 July 2021 in Brain circuits • 2 min read

The chances are your company is currently trying to develop leaders through two main strategies. The first via executive leadership education and the second through succession management processes. But are you capturing the synergies between the two? Identifying and combining the key elements between leadership and succession management functions is an essential part of nurturing a more robust leadership pipeline.  

Holistic planning enables leadership talent to progress more quickly, while new leaders are better prepared and motivated for new challenges. But language matters. Calling it a leadership progression, rather than succession, gives you more options to discuss development and changes to an individual role. 

Here are the four most important steps to capture succession management and leadership development synergies: 

1 Detail your leadership strategy 

This helps to mark a starting point and outlines the leadership and organizational capabilities the company needs to build internally, externally, to fulfill its strategic goals. The capabilities may range from innovation, digital enablement and customer experience to operational excellence. They are unique to each company and serve to foster success today and to create tomorrow’s businesses. 

2 Deploy a fit-for-purpose leadership assessment 

A leadership assessment allows you to identify individuals who might join the future leaders’ bench, or leadership pipeline, by matching an organization’s high-potential talent pool’s capabilities against current and future capability requirements. This data helps you make smart decisions on whether to build or buy leadership talent. However, it is important to be careful about selecting and validating the right leadership assessment tools, which can fit different circumstances.   

3 Work the leadership progression plan  

Your internal talent needs to be developed in order for individuals to meet and exceed expectations in their new role. Individualized development coaching (IDC) is a growth process that helps make this a reality, involving bespoke development interventions designed to coach, mentor or teach them key operational and personal levers that they need to master. Monitoring each leader’s development should be undertaken at annual or bi-annual intervals to ensure that internal succession candidates are on track.    

4 Define the leadership transition  

To ensure successful leadership role transitions across the organization takes effort, which makes it difficult to afford failure. Investing in personal transition coaching for each candidate is a form of risk mitigation that works well for all stakeholders and calibrates new role expectations for the leader and their manager.  

 A targeted new leader 360 degree mini-assessment at the six-month mark works well, often in the form of a brief verbal or online session that involves behavioral feedback from their peers, their manager and from direct reports.  

Authors

Ric Roi

Ric Roi

Professor of Leadership and Organization at IMD

Ric Roi is Professor of Leadership and Organization at IMD. He is a senior business psychologist and advises boards and CEOs on matters related to board renewal, CEO succession, top team effectiveness and leadership transitions.

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