Keeping Your Leadership Pipeline Filled

It never fails to concern me how many organisations don’t have a business succession plan in place, particularly around the critical roles in the company. It’s as if there exists
08 Oct 2016 11:00
Keeping Your Leadership Pipeline Filled

It never fails to concern me how many organisations don’t have a business succession plan in place, particularly around the critical roles in the company.

It’s as if there exists a ‘we’ll get to it later when we have time’ attitude, without the realisation that if there is no systematic and detailed leadership pipeline established and monitored, the Company is left vulnerable on many different levels.

The most obvious is that key operational roles are not covered should the person in the role leave or become unwell, leaving the Organisation scrambling to get the workload covered anyway it can.  Often with disastrous consequences.

Simply, business succession planning means taking a hard look at the business to identify its needs and opportunities to ensure long-term goals are met.

How Organisations do this is part of a strategic business succession plan that occurs internally or even externally by looking for talent to recruit outside of the Organisation, via scouting, interviews or the internet.

The business world has changed and traditional Organisations have to urgently get up to speed with a rapidly diversifying business world, increased partnerships and alliances and ongoing competitive activity.

Keeping that Leadership Pipeline filled is critical in our modern day age.

According to Charan, ‘Almost every ‘old economy’ industry – autos, financial services, travel – have taken major steps to become e-commerce companies and as a result, the battle for e-commerce leadership talent has become even more intense.’ (Charan, R, Drotter, S, Noel, J, 2001, The Leadership Pipeline, John Wiley and Sons, USA).


What is Business Succession Planning?

Succession planning is a systematic process for identifying and developing talent within an Organisation to fill its key business leadership positions

The process builds a pool of capable employees who are able to fill roles as they become available

As part of leadership development, business succession planning ensures that there are qualified candidates within the Organisation to fill key vacancies in leadership positions at all times

Because of the importance of business succession planning, it must be a deliberate and ongoing process, mostly falling within People and Culture (HR), that constantly seeks and identifies high performers, and then upskills them in a variety of ways to position them to lead the Company (or part of it) in the future.


Succession Planning – not just ‘nice’ to have

To ensure that the Organisation is sustainable over time, it has to have the correct people, policies, processes and systems to drive it forward.

Some experts argue that if the person who is in charge of the Company does not ensure that this happens, it is leadership incompetence and neglect.

When the buck stops at the foot of a particular leader, it is their responsibility to ensure they do everything needed to guarantee the ongoing success of the Organisation in every way.

Business Succession Planning is not ‘nice’ to have.  It is an integral and strategic part of the Organistion to ensure the:

– Longevity and profitability of the company

– Company continues to enjoy increased turnover and profit

– Talented employees are developed and competent to fill future key roles

– Professional image of the Company is maintained


Replacement versus Succession Planning – what’s the difference?

There is often confusion about these two. Consider these:

– Replacement planning is a process of identifying short-term or long-term backups or replacements so that a Company has people who can assume responsibility for critical positions during emergencies

– Succession planning enables the Company is easily able to fill vacancies throughout the business because employees are strategically identified and developed to do so, creating a talent pool in the process



Business Succession Planning needs to be a critical part of your Organisation’s strategy, process and operations.

Don’t leave it to chance as this lack-lustre attitude will leave your Organisation vulnerable over time.

Not identifying, developing and promoting key talent is not only incompetence, it just makes no business sense at all.

You know you have achieved success in this area when goals are achieved, growth occurs and business succession planning is a critical part of your Company’s strategy and culture.
Caryn Walsh is an International Business Consultant, Executive Coach, Keynote Speaker. She is in Fiji four times a year. She will be speaking this Friday at the FIA Leaders Conference at the Grand Pacific Hotel.


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