Succession Planning with 3 Key Leadership Skills

So, you had the idea for your business. You believed in yourself and had the strength of mind to set it up and keep it running through the busts and booms. But in the back of your mind, you know the day will come when you want to take your hands off the wheel and let someone else take over. Thus, it is vital that you as a successful leader invest in the development of your successor. And not just one individual but the whole next generation of employees, to help every individual build skills and their own careers.

Unfortunately, we encounter too many leaders who either do not get it, or who only do people development on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They only partly grasp the concept that their business success is founded upon the personal growth of so many others.

We are sure that you as a successful business person have your personal strategy for climbing the career ladder. And we also know for sure that your next move is only made possible by having a committed, knowledgeable, skilled, and engaged replacement who is fully equipped to follow in your footsteps. Because it’s true for you, it’s also true for your senior team and all of the teams that work for them.

Business problems are like potholes and obstacles along the road. Many of them are daunting at first sight, but as all enterprises progress, we either come up with new ideas and innovative solutions or we grind to a halt. Your actions, and those of your senior team, in the face of these challenges are why you are the bosses in the first place. You know just what to do and the temptation to say, “don’t worry, I’ll take care of it,” or “leave it with me, I know just how to handle this” is huge.

However, our experience in coaching leaders and running large functions tells us that to remove responsibility for problem-solving and innovation from employees is a one-way path to failure. The wiser approach for a sustainable business is to focus on 3 key leadership skills in educating your next generation of leaders and employees…

1.   Be the champion of continuous improvement.  As you go around your business asking employees “how’s it going?” do not be tempted into being the collector and solver of all issues big and small. Rather ask, “what ideas do you have for making this better?” “What do you need from me to put this right?”

Establish corrective action teams with contributions from employees involved in each step of the process(es). Guide these teams along a tried-and-tested approach that helps avoid jumping to conclusions, confirmation bias, and missteps. For further information and guidance, check out our white paper, “Thriving in a Matrix World.”

2.   Authentic communication of your thoughts, feelings, and rationale.  When you open to others with your reasons for making those important decisions, with how your actions make you feel (good or bad), and what your thinking is, you lead by example. Your employees will follow suit and trust will grow.

It is a dilemma for many people that by contributing to innovation they may be “doing themselves out of a job.” On this subject, you need to give special consideration to sharing your thoughts, feelings, and rationale. And as Simon Sinek would say: “Start with Why.”

3.   Be there for them with resources and encouragement. Developing your employees to be the best they can be is an investment. It isn’t cheap, but it is so much better value than ignorance. Time is money, of course. Employee development and engagement takes a lot of it, and it cannot be done all at once.

Recognition and praise are not so costly and can make the difference between success and failure. We see many leaders fall at the last hurdle by failing to celebrate achievements or forgetting to praise effort, particularly effort that comes up short of total success.

In our everyday business leadership, we should be working towards making ourselves redundant by coaching and training team members. We must push them for better work and to learn from the unexpected. It is all too common a mistake to make them reliant on leaders making all the decisions and taking on full responsibility. Your goal should be to have one or more of them fully prepared to step smoothly into your shoes when you are ready to move on.

At PBC we work with business leaders to reduce their frustration with their bottom line and to balance their business and personal lives. Too often small business owners are worn out by long hours. We coach you into making more money with less effort. To learn more about ways to grow and systemize your business, call PBC for a free, no-obligation consultation.

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