The Succession Imperative

If you don't have the leadership you need, regardless of what else works, you still don't have much. As for a crisis, it might not - as has often been suggested - create leaders but it lets you know about the capability of the ones you have.

The leadership challenge describes a talent management system with a good many moving parts:

  • The capacity to attract talent
  • The talent acquisition process
  • Executive integration
  • Performance management
  • Leadership development
  • Building great teams
  • Traditional and tech-enabled teaching/training
  • Coaching/mentoring
  • Expediting the organisation's diversity and inclusion goals

And at the centre of that system, the straw that stirs the drink? The organisation's approach to succession. If talent management is the vehicle that supports business longevity, succession - an often misconceived, misaligned and misunderstood process - is its engine. It is a critical investment that you cannot afford to get wrong.

The narrative around succession is, invariably, drawn to big jobs with big companies. The reality is that every poor succession decision destroys value. In family businesses this is especially the case. Unfortunately, the evidence demonstrates that organisations don't exactly excel at succession.

Ultimately, the true measure of a leader isn't what they achieve while in office - it's what they leave behind. That even after the heaviest storm … you can still clearly see their footprints in the sand.

Insights from "It's Time To Rethink Succession".

A Shared Agenda For Leaders In Sports And Business
Posted

When a certain sports executive recruited from one team to another team was introduced to the media in his new home city, he quickly shared a simple plan to turn around an under-performing team and make it a contender.

The two-part plan was this:

  1. Focus on effective talent scouting and recruitment.
  2. Focus on continual player development and performance measurement.

While these two sporting mandates may at first seem relevant only within the stadium's walls or the plush confines of the players' clubhouse, they actually represent a significant calling for business leaders across every industry and management function.

Business leaders must be skilled at partnering with lots of different people and personality types. Over time, one develops a keen sense of who fits, who's doing great work, and where certain individuals need to hone or acquire certain skill and/or experience sets.

It's this keen view of organisational talent that should move leaders to continually evaluate the talent he or she has and the talent they need. Scouting 'high-potential' prospects from within the enterprise - perhaps in another business unit, or at a lower level - and outside its walls is essential to build winning teams for the business. After all, the team with the best talent and team chemistry usually wins the field.

Of course, once you've promoted or recruited high performers, it's important to evaluate their performance and identify opportunities to stretch their talents so they can make an ever-increasing impact on the organisation. Any promising contributor or leader who is allowed to go 'static' when the task and opportunity ahead of them requires a continual escalation of skill-building will soon lose interest and become disengaged.

The winners in tomorrow's business markets are focusing on scouting and talent development today. Hopefully, these business mandates are on your agenda, too!

What Does A Passion To Learn Look Like?

Now, more than ever, leaders are readers. And they go out of their way to share the learning involved with those around them. Continuously learning how to learn speaks to moving to the edge of your comfort zone. It captures a leadership approach where stepping into new space is obligatory. It's about letting go of the past and coming to terms with taking emotional risk. Curiosity is the start of it, acquiring new skills is part of it, but learning how to learn is the heart of it.

What does a passion to learn look like? It starts with a great question. It implies constantly challenging the way things are. It demands reflection. It becomes a habit through self discipline. Listening, meanwhile, is nothing less than the, all essential, lubricant of learning. As for follow-up, without it, what we are describing is little more than "a nice conversation". Follow-up means not only following through … but sharing the learning with the team and beyond.

And the difference that makes a difference: Pass both the process and the learning content to those whose behaviour you seek to change. It's a matter of more "power to" and less PowerPoint … especially when seeking to draw the best out of recent generational cohorts to the workforce. Nurture the assumption that, ultimately, how we learn is more important than what we learn.

Insights from "Tomorrow's Leadership Will Be Different".

IMD World Talent Ranking 2020
imd.org

The IMD World Talent Ranking captures the capacity of an economy to develop as well as attract talent to strengthen its competitiveness. Countries are scored across three factors of Investment & Development, Readiness and Appeal.

"The latest ranking suggests that most economies that perform well focus their talent development efforts in every stage of the educational process. From primary education to tertiary, to apprenticeships and continuous work training, enhancing the skills and competencies of the work force is important. The top performing economies are open to both people and ideas. Finally, in the difficult times of social distancing and working from home, keeping the employees motivated contributes to the talent competitiveness of an economy."

Read "IMD World Talent Ranking 2020" leadership insights

Purpose & Progress
aesc.or

"A strong and inspiring purpose motivates employees to stay, to persevere, to go the extra mile. It becomes the 'why of work' that attracts and retains because they are engaged with the vision, programs, social impact or the kind of ecosystem the business is in. They are proud of the product or service, and that makes them stay." - David Wongso, Managing Partner, TRANSEARCH Indonesia.

David contributes valuable insights to this AESC executive talent article on the purpose and progress.

Read "Purpose & Progress" leadership insights

TOP Leaders Have a Passion to Learn

Exploring new ways to learn

TOP (Transforming, Outstanding, Performance tested) Talent refers to those fully equipped to excel in a, hitherto unknown, level of business and societal uncertainty. Those who don't read are no better off than those who can't read. Indeed, now more than ever, leaders are readers. And they go out of their way to share the learning involved with those around them. We are also talking about a special kind of learning - challenging oneself, pushing forward, reflecting on what works, embracing risk and kicking performance up to the next level.

Traditional learning is all about gaining knowledge and/or skills. Expertise is essential but continuously learning how to learn is even more important. This speaks to moving to the edge of one's comfort zone. It captures a leadership approach where stepping into new space is obligatory. It's about letting go of the past and coming to terms with taking emotional risk. Curiosity is the start of it, acquiring new skills is part of it, but learning how to learn is the heart of it.

Without truly challenging the status quo, things are destined to stay the way they are. Without reflection, there is no learning. And without constantly exploring new ways to learn, there is little hope of learning faster than the competition.

Learning how to learn

Tomorrow's organisation will be a team of teams. And forget the notion that the team is made up of people you meet with regularly. A boundary-less mindset, connect-ability, collaboration at a distance and enabling people with ideas to bump into each other is the only game in town. As for consensus … we don't have time! Ensure that team members get their fingerprints all over the issue. Encourage candour. Draw out disagreement, but once the decision has been made - full agreement or not - commitment is assumed. Learning how to learn.

Even when hiring people like you, the "interview" is an inadequate tool. Throw millennials, iGen and gig employees into the mix and its reliability goes down. Think short-term projects, reviewing past work, tracking down past colleagues, temporary assignments, meaningful reference checks and having the candidate deliver a presentation to the team. Learning how to learn.

Learning is drawn out of the experience … but it starts with a question. The better the question, the richer the experience that explores that question … the more impactful the learning. The question that frames truly impactful learning isn't always apparent to the learner. Drawing it out is the art of facilitation.

A passion to learn

What does a passion to learn look like? It starts with a great question. It implies constantly challenging the way things are. It demands reflection. It becomes a habit through self-discipline. Listening, meanwhile, is nothing less than the, all essential, lubricant of learning. As for follow-up, without it, what we are describing is little more than "a nice conversation." Follow-up means not only following through … but sharing the learning with the team and beyond.

And the difference that makes a difference: Pass both the process and the learning content to those whose behaviour you seek to change. It's a matter of more "power to" and less PowerPoint … especially when seeking to draw the best out of recent generational cohorts to the workforce. Nurture the assumption that, ultimately, how we learn is more important than what we learn.

Insights by John Burdett. Orxestra Inc., © 2018.

Insights from "Tomorrow's Leadership Will Be Different".