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Succession Planning for Leadership Development

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There are now studies and metrics coming out that the “talent crisis” may not be as bad as we once thought it would be. Yes, the baby boomers are getting older, and yes, they are reaching retirement age more quickly than the following generation is filling their shoes, but the newest studies are finding that many of them want to keep working. While we once assumed that everyone would retire between 55 and 65 (think cliff vesting) the current understanding is that is no longer true. While this doesn’t mean we have another decade, it does mean we have a longer period of time to mentor the next generation. Whether it’s because the senior talent is sticking around longer because they want to work, or because they understand the need to “volunteer” their time, it’s good for the rest of us.

In the past I’ve focused a lot on leadership development and “growing” talent, but haven’t really talked much about succession planning.

Succession planning is distinguished from both replacement planning and talent management largely in terms of ownership and scope. While not as global in scope as talent management, succession planning is focused on ensuring that an organization has the ability to identify and develop future leaders. Given the workforce realities that will be the norm within several years (and is currently the norm in some industries such as healthcare), succession planning can truly be an asset to any organization. ((Frear, Susuan, May 9, 2006. “A Succession Planning Primer.” Sponsored by SuccessFactors for Human Capital Institute.))

I’d also add that succession is related to talent acquisition in that succession can often look outside the organization to fill leadership gaps. Strategic talent acquisition for key positions can begin many years before the departure of executives with the identification and monitoring of potential replacements.

More important however is what you actually have control over. Succession planning is a recipient of talent management data to identify appropriate and potential successors. However, it is also the originator of new talent processes as a good succession plan should also identify successor skill gaps and learning opportunities.

Notes: I used a couple of SuccessFactors whitepapers as inspiration for this post. You can view a link page for SuccessFactors whitepapers here.

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One response to “Succession Planning for Leadership Development”

  1. C.M. Peters Avatar

    The hardest part of Succession Planning is selling it to your Executives to gain their buy-in. It’s hard for a CEO to say “I need to start preparing my replacement.”