Building a Sustainable Future

How Lifelong Learning Drives Effective Leadership Succession Planning

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How can leaders create an effective plan to pass on their wealth of knowledge and expertise to create a sustainable future for their organization? Through leadership succession planning, a senior leader can contribute to an organization’s long-term success by identifying and developing other potential leaders to ensure a smooth transition when they retire or move on to other opportunities. But what role does learning and development play in this process?

For organizations and leaders to stay relevant and competitive, it requires continuous improvement and personal growth with the intention of making lifelong learning crucial for effective leadership succession planning. By prioritizing learning and development programs for leaders, organizations can create a diverse and innovative leadership pipeline, reduce the risk of leadership gaps, and ultimately contribute to the organization’s long-term success. Let’s dive in and determine what effective leadership succession planning looks like, check out three companies leading the way with succession planning strategies, and discover how lifelong learning and learning and development can play a critical role in effective leadership succession planning.

Top Three Steps to Leadership Succession Planning

Leadership succession planning is a critical process that enables organizations to ensure that they have the right people in place to lead the organization in the future. Here are the top three most important steps to leadership succession planning.

  1. Identify critical leadership roles and competencies:  The first step in leadership succession planning is to identify the critical leadership roles within the organization. These are the roles that are essential to the success of the organization and that require specific competencies and skills. Once these roles are identified, the organization must define the competencies and skills needed for each position. This will enable the organization to identify potential successors with the necessary competencies and skills. Competencies such as strategic thinking, problem-solving, decision-making, change management, global communication, emotional intelligence, and financial acumen should be considered when identifying the critical skills needed for the next generation of leadership.
  2. Create a talent pipeline and invest in developing this talent:  Once the critical leadership roles and competencies are identified, the organization needs to develop a talent pipeline to ensure it has a pool of potential successors. Reviewing performance evaluations and career development discussions can be a start to determining which talent is interested in growing into leadership positions. Also, consider behavioral assessments and other employee referrals, and provide stretch leadership and mentorship opportunities to determine the right fit for the talent pipeline. Once selected, these high-potential employees should be provided with the necessary training and development opportunities to prepare them for future leadership roles. The organization should also consider external recruitment to bring in new talent and fresh perspectives while assessing skills and competencies relevant to the desired leadership positions.
  3. Implement a succession planning process: The final step is to implement a formal process for identifying and developing potential successors. This involves creating a succession plan for each critical leadership role, including identifying potential successors, providing them with the necessary training and development opportunities, and monitoring their progress. With regular check-ins, identifying succession planning metrics, reviewing 360-degree feedback, and reviewing performance, high-potential talent can measure how they are progressing with their development to prepare them for the next leadership level. The organization should also ensure that there is a process in place for identifying and addressing any gaps in the talent pipeline.

Three Companies with World-Class Succession Planning Strategies

We can learn how to implement these succession planning strategies from the best! Three companies – Johnson & Johnson, General Electric (G.E.), and IBM – have successfully shown the world how to plan for leadership succession.

Johnson & Johnson emphasizes executive coaching and mentoring, prioritizing diversity and inclusion in their leadership development programs. The company also has a robust leadership academy that provides formal training and development programs for high-potential employees.

General Electric (G.E.) is known for its rigorous assessment programs to identify high-potential employees. The company also has a leadership development program that provides various training opportunities, including e-learning and classroom-based training, to help employees develop the skills and competencies needed for future leadership roles.

IBM strongly emphasizes identifying high-potential employees and providing them with development opportunities to prepare them for leadership roles. The company promotes from within and has a leadership development program that includes mentoring and coaching, job rotations, and classroom-based training. Like Johnson & Johnson, IBM prioritizes diversity and inclusion in their leadership development programs.

These companies demonstrate how a proactive approach to succession planning can lead to a strong and diverse leadership team, contributing to long-term success. By identifying and developing top talent, promoting from within, and prioritizing diversity and inclusion, these companies have created a sustainable leadership pipeline that can navigate the challenges and opportunities of the future.

The Critical Role of Lifelong Learning and Development in Leadership Succession Planning. 

Leadership succession planning is a critical process that enables organizations to ensure that they have the right people in place to lead the organization in the future. Leaders who prioritize their learning and development set an example for their team, demonstrating that they value continuous improvement and growth. They are better equipped to identify potential successors and provide necessary training and development opportunities to prepare them for future leadership roles.

Organizational learning and development programs are instrumental in preparing talent to take on the shifting challenges of leaders today. Offering communication

External training programs like e-learning and coaching can benefit leadership succession planning. These programs offer easy access and community-style learning, allowing employees to learn and grow at their own pace while also benefiting from the knowledge and experience of others. Additionally, these programs can provide fresh perspectives and new ideas that employees may have yet to encounter within their organization. This helps cultivate a diverse and innovative leadership pipeline essential for long-term success.

By prioritizing lifelong learning and learning and development programs, organizations can ensure they have a pool of potential successors with the necessary competencies and skills to lead the organization in the future. Moreover, these programs can help to ensure a smooth transition when senior leaders retire or move on to other opportunities, reducing the risk of leadership gaps and minimizing disruptions to organizational performance. Ultimately, organizations prioritizing lifelong learning and development for their employees are more likely to have a successful leadership succession planning process, ensuring long-term success.

Best Practices for Lifelong Learning and Learning and Development in Succession Planning

Organizations prioritizing learning and development for their employees are more likely to have a successful succession planning process in place. Here are some actionable steps and advice for organizations to ensure effective lifelong learning and development:

  1. Develop a Culture of Learning: Developing a culture of learning is essential for effective succession planning programs in organizations. This culture of learning can be created by promoting and making learning opportunities widely available and easily accessible. Leaders can model a commitment to lifelong learning, which can inspire and encourage employees to take ownership of their learning journey. When employees are encouraged to learn and grow, they become better equipped to take on future leadership roles. A culture of learning can also contribute to employee satisfaction and retention, as employees feel that the organization values their personal and professional growth. By creating a culture of learning, organizations can ensure that they have a strong and diverse leadership pipeline that can navigate the challenges and opportunities of the future.
  2. Create a Comprehensive Learning and Development Program: Creating a comprehensive learning and development program is essential for developing excellent succession planning programs. By providing various training and development opportunities, such as on-the-job training, coaching and mentoring, e-learning, and classroom-based training, organizations can ensure their employees can access the tools they need to develop the skills necessary for future leadership roles. By offering these opportunities, organizations can identify potential successors and provide the necessary training and development to prepare them for leadership roles. Organizations should provide opportunities for employees to develop essential leadership skills identified for succession planning to prepare for future leadership roles. This can include providing training on topics such as communication, decision-making, and problem-solving. By offering these opportunities, organizations can help employees develop the skills necessary to lead the organization in the future.
  3. Regularly Assess the Effectiveness of Learning and Development Programs: Regularly assessing the effectiveness of learning and development programs is essential to ensure that the programs meet the organization’s and its employees’ needs. Through surveys, feedback, and performance metrics, organizations can identify areas that need improvement and make necessary program adjustments. This allows the organization to continually improve and refine its programs to ensure they remain relevant and effective in preparing employees for future leadership roles. By regularly evaluating the success of the programs, organizations can identify potential successors who may need additional training or development and provide them with the necessary resources to help them succeed in future leadership roles. This can help ensure the organization has a strong and diverse leadership pipeline, reducing the risk of leadership gaps and ensuring a smooth transition when senior leaders retire or move on to other opportunities.
  4. Encourage Continuous Learning: Continuous learning is crucial in developing excellent succession planning programs. By providing opportunities for employees to learn and grow, organizations can prepare their workforce for future leadership roles. This can be achieved through various means, such as job rotations, mentoring programs, and on-the-job training. Such programs enhance employees’ skills and knowledge and boost their confidence and motivation, creating a culture of continuous learning within the organization. Additionally, encouraging employees to take ownership of their learning journey can help them to identify and develop the competencies and skills required for future leadership roles, contributing to a strong and diverse leadership pipeline. Continuous learning ensures that employees are up-to-date with the latest industry trends and practices, making them better equipped to take on leadership roles in the future. By staying current, employees can bring new ideas and perspectives to the organization, contributing to its innovation and growth.
  5. Leverage External Training Programs: In addition to providing internal training and development opportunities, organizations can also leverage external leadership training programs to enhance their succession planning efforts. These programs offer access to a broader range of expertise, perspectives, and resources that may not be available within the organization. External training programs can also help to keep leaders up-to-date with the latest trends, technologies, and best practices in their industry. These programs offer employees the opportunity to network and collaborate with other professionals in their field, expanding their knowledge and skills and building valuable connections. By investing in external training programs, organizations can demonstrate their commitment to the development of their employees and foster a culture of continuous learning and growth, ultimately contributing to the organization’s long-term success.

By following these best practices, organizations can ensure they have a pipeline of potential leaders with the necessary competencies and skills to lead the organization in the future. It can also help ensure a smooth transition when senior leaders retire or move on to other opportunities, minimize disruptions to organizational performance, and ultimately contribute to the organization’s long-term success.

Conclusion

Building a strong leadership pipeline through effective succession planning is crucial for achieving long-term success. Prioritizing employee learning and development programs is essential to create a continuous learning and growth culture, ensuring a diverse and innovative leadership pipeline. By identifying critical leadership roles and competencies, developing a talent pipeline, and implementing a formal process for identifying and developing potential successors, organizations can minimize disruptions to organizational performance and reduce the risk of leadership gaps.

Investing in learning and development programs for leaders is not just about preparing them for future leadership roles but also about creating a culture of continuous learning that values personal and professional growth. Leaders who prioritize their learning and development set an example for their team, demonstrating that they value constant improvement and growth. By encouraging a culture of learning and development, organizations can attract and retain top talent, increasing employee satisfaction and retention. Ultimately, organizations that prioritize learning and development are more likely to have a successful leadership succession planning process in place, contributing to the organization’s long-term success.

Remember, effective leadership succession planning is not just about filling senior positions but about building a sustainable future for the organization. By prioritizing learning and development programs for employees, organizations can ensure that they have a strong and diverse leadership pipeline that can navigate the challenges and opportunities of the future. Let us strive to create a culture of continuous learning and growth, inspiring the next generation of leaders to achieve greatness and contribute to the long-term success of their organizations. Together, leaders and their teams can embark on a never-ending learning and growth journey, inspiring future leaders to rise, conquer challenges, and leave an impactful legacy that propels their organizations toward sustainable greatness.

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