The fact that we are in the midst of a global leadership talent shortage should come as no surprise to the leaders in the majority of organizations. There are a lot of studies that have been done recently that support this and go so far as to identify the productivity and financial impacts that this challenge is causing. It is not getting any better.
We thought that if we had succession planning in place that we would not be facing a leadership talent shortage. Where I believe we went wrong was thinking that having a plan would fix the problem. I firmly believe this was a huge error in judgement. First off just having a plan that we blow the dust off of every year to make sure the names haven’t changed isn’t going to help us deal with this situation. I support the suggestion that we would be better positioned to refer to this as succession development rather than succession planning or succession management. Organizations that do not have a plan or a leadership development program far outnumber the ones that do.
Now that we have identified the process as succession development let’s explore that a little further. Looking at this from the aspect of succession development is more in line with where organizations need to be heading from a culture and work environment. The need to create a culture of learning and development on a continuous basis is the organization of the future. Failure to get on board will result in employee retention and attraction issues and a disengaged work force.
The development of future leaders is paramount to the success of most organizations and even more so in a global economy that is trying to deal with a leadership talent shortage. Through succession development and a proper leadership development program that leverages the power of coaching and mentoring we can create that bench strength of leaders for the future and sustain our position in a competitive marketplace. I have seen far too many times organizations provide leadership training but do not provide the continuous learning and development that is needed to make this a success story.
This is where we ensure that mentoring is part of the succession development process and the leadership development program as well. Spending an hour a week to review what went well, what didn’t go well and what we would do differently is time well spent in the development of a leader. I have worked with a number of people that are in leadership roles and have followed this best practice and it provides that success story that we are looking for. Conversely I have seen new leaders that have been thrown in the deep end of the pool with no life preserver and they have drown. Not the success story that we are looking for.
Do have a succession development strategy. Do have a leadership development program. Do make mentoring a key part of each of these and you are on your way to a great success story. Embrace the “gift of mentoring!”
Doug Lawrence is the founder of TalentC®, a Human Resources solution provider focused on effective mentoring. Doug is an International Certified Mentor Practitioner (ICMP) and an International Certified Mentor Facilitator (ICMF). He has over 30 years of mentoring and leadership experience.
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