written by Nick Roud, Global Award Winning Executive Leadership Coach
For a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) getting clear visability on succession planning is vitally important. Most Board of Directors (BoDs) will encourage and or insist that the CE is growing its leadership bench in order to have people ready to step into a leadership roles down the line.
So how do you navigate your leadership pipeline if you are a CEO or people leader? What process do you work though so not to miss any future leaders? Do you play favourites or do you put the interests of the organisation front and centre for your decision making? What support and or professional development will enable those identified to be ready!
A leader is not born they are made. In my view and in evidence gained over the years of coaching CEOs, Executive and Emerging Leaders, nobody is every ready to take on an executive leadership role. Very rarely do I coach a CEO or executive that says, Nick ‘you know what I am ready’, ‘I was ready to take on this role’!
More often than not when we start to get into our coaching work together, common themes come to the surface, some include the shear fear, the personal uncertainty, the fear of failure, self doubt and negative talk. These are more common than one would imagine and all healthy thoughts as long as we put conversation and action towards these and don’t allow the to be tucked away under a rock!
The CEO who is critically thinking about his / her leadership bench will have a very close connection to there people. They don’t leave this to chance, regular, robust conversations are carried out to understand the direction of their emerging leaders. Whilst the conversation is typically one of encouragement at times tough conversations will be needed. Those tough conversations are what seperate a mature CE and an immature CE.
From a strategic point of view, the CE will be noting down where his/her bench are currently operating at. Looking through the lens of Leadership Ready will include the following;
Is (Sally/David etc)……
- Leadership Ready – Now
- Leadership Ready – Soon (1-2) years
- Leadership Ready – Medium Term (2-5 years)
- Long Term Leadership Ready (5+ years)
On the basis of that they will be thinking what must we do as an organisation, as a leadership group to enable Sally/David to be leadership ready!
Getting good reliable evidence on where your emerging leaders currently area and where they must be in order to be considered for a bigger role is a steady process. Investing in emerging leaders has to be a two way process. There is little to no point looking to professional develop an individual if they have no intention of stepping into a bigger role. Considering the individuals triggers and appetite for taking on more should be well examined.
When 1:1 emerging coaching comes into play it is a sure fire testament and strong sign that your organisation wants you to be successful. In all my years of coaching emerging leaders, not one person has come to me from an organisation with the message (fix this person).
Coaching isn’t and shouldn’t be a last resort, nor should it be the magical miracle that will ‘fix’ a person. Coaching is a process that will enable the emerging leader to understand where he/she is currently performing. It brings relevant and up to date evidence that lays out the individuals strengths and the areas he/she need to develop if they are going to be Leadership Ready (now). The evidence we use focuses in on 9 leadership aspects such as
- Strategic Thinking
- Decision Making
- Emotional Leadership
- Communication Skills etc
Nearly every organisation I work with share that its biggest asset are its people. I was therefore super pleased that 92% of CEOs surveyed by a global consultancy firm said they are planning to develop leadership and talent over the next 12 months. If as a CEO or Board you are not investing in your leaders they may well find a new home that chooses to invest in its people.
What’s most interesting is that emerging leaders are desperately trying to understand who they are as a leader rather than working it out on the job. They want evidence that they can work on, above all they need clarity. Knowing the emerging leaders who pass through my doors (aka the 20ft shipping container) I can say hand on heart they are self driven, they rarely need a kick up the arse. They want to be the very best they can be! What a powerful combination don’t you think!.
Having people ready isn’t about making quick decisions, it’s about a pipeline just like wine good things do and will take time. We see around the world that good people don’t leave organisations they leave their boss. They are moving quickly away from an organisation who isn’t enabling them to fulfil their leadership potential and or aligned to values.
Our emerging coaching work is one-on-one and is for a period of 6 months. We operate in a safe space that is structured coaching process thus enables the emerging leader to laser in on professional development, we bring in evidence based leadership assessments to ensure we get a concrete lay of the land. Together with the leader we build an Individual Leadership Development Plan that focuses in on the 1%ers. 100% of those coached by me, not only improve as a leader they are seriously considered for that bigger role.
Goes to show when you focus in on what you must focus on the results take care of themself!
Many emerging leaders are faced with an arguably difficult decision to step outside their organisation to make a career move up as they believe their organisation would rather hire in people from outside to fill the void. How does that build a trusting culture? What is that showing your people? How might you react if you were sitting in that persons shoes?
Emerging leaders are not the ones to sit on their hands for too long.
If you are not looking at your leadership bench now, I can assure you other CEOs are.
For a confidential conversation on the award winning leadership coaching work I do with CEOs, executives and emerging leaders reach out to me on +6421375630.