GLOSS Issue 19 DEC 2014-JAN 2015 - Page 28

Succession Planning GET OUT OF THE WAY Chris Allen What does succession planning really mean? As a writer I like to look at the origins of the words when getting to the heart of a topic. In this case, I'm focussing on 'success' as the core component. If we're serious about grooming those who succeed us we need to be evaluating their successes to date and aligning that with the goals and objectives of the organisation. Sometimes the two just don't gel and there's nothing wrong with that. There's great mutual value to be gained from individuals making a specific task or time related contribution to an organisation before moving on. I don't believe in people doggedly clutching to the coat tails of an organisation for life because it's not healthy. Routine becomes the norm which becomes familiarity which becomes a comfort zone which leads to complacency which in turn promotes laziness, minimum effort, cutting corners and so on. Too far? Not really. I've seen it time and again. So I can get back to my soapbox and back on topic, at the centre of this is the responsibility of leadership. The more you advance as a leader the greater your responsibility to futureproof your organisation by establishing a contribution based culture, recognizing the immense value of a diverse, mobile and flexible workforce. In my view, loyalty isn't about the perceived value of those who stay around the longest (in terms of years). It's more about the actual value to be gained by those prepared to give their all for the duration of their tenure no matter how long that may be. So, while we’re busily making our own personal contributions as senior leaders and we’re thinking beyond the horizon on what our leadership legacy should look like, we must consider the organisation’s future and what the leadership model of that future requires to thrive and advance in a sustainable way. In doing so we must also consider our role in developing the leadership culture we all want for Australia. Do we want to maintain the old ways or do we want to play a part in evolving it for future generations? But nurturing and planning the career progression of those who follow us can be unsettling for some. The idea of developing the apprentice to eventually surpass the master is counterintuitive to our basest survival instincts, yet we have an obligation to do it. It’s evolution after all and there’s satisfaction to be derived from the development of others. In fact, I consider this to be a fundamental responsibility of leadership. Obviously there are a few approaches to this. Some may prefer to fashion their protégés in their own image whereas I prefer to surround myself with those who bring different skills to the table. It’s important to enable your developing leaders to challenge you, to let them know they can, so that you’re presented with options you may not have considered. If you’re smart and you’ve chosen wisely then give them opportunities to prove themselves. If they make mistakes here and there, allow them to learn, improve and move on with confidence. The days of shouting and screaming at people are (or should be) long gone. There is no intellect behind a rant or belittling others. It reflects more on the ranter than the rantee. So avoid hanging your charges out to dry by taking the time to debrief, assess, guide and lead. Remember, your capacity for real leadership is reflected in your ability to think strategically - not just looking over the horizon to the next five or ten years but beyond that, futureproofing your organisation well beyond your own tenure. “Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere”. - Ronald Reagan