If the findings in a new report are accurate, and the majority of CEOs within the healthcare industry have not carried out any work to identify their potential successor, there could well be some rocky roads ahead for these ill-prepared organisations.

We may well be living and working in a period of uncertainty, but succession planning should be woven into the business culture and be part of the talent management or leadership development ethos. The survey conducted by recruitment firm Witt/Kieffer highlights some of the potential dangers of not having a succession plan constantly running and evolving within the organisation.

The benefits of managing talent effectively and encouraging employees to climb up the hierarchical ladder within the business are clear:

1. Save  expensive recruitment costs – the more senior, the higher the cost
Save time by existing employees ‘hitting the ground running’ rather than waiting for the lengthy bedding in period required for new hires
3. Remove the risk of new hires not succeeding as expected

From a leadership development point of view, these organisations without succession planning in place are missing the bigger picture. That is, having a culture of development and a system in place where managers and high potential employees have the opportunity to grow into a leadership role is incredibly motivational.

Demonstrating to employees within the business that no position is out of their reach, is an important and inspiring message to offer. How do you achieve this?

It’s like anything else in life. Who will be the next Jessica Ennis or Mo Farah? Few of us know, but you can bet on the fact that someone, somewhere is running around a track or jumping into a pit of sand believing they can be. And, right next to these individuals are coaches and trainers helping them to reach the dizzy heights that have dominated TV screens and newspapers for the past two weeks.

In business it’s the same deal. The momentum to learn and develop can never stop, because if it does when the current leadership team is no longer there for whatever reason, what will be left?

I wonder if the Witt/Kieffer report on the healthcare industry is reflected in other industries too. The first step to succession planning is to have a development programme for high-potential employees that works.

Here are some of the top features of a leadership or talent development programme that you should look out for when you take that first step or look to shift focus on how you develop talent:

Bespoke: All organisations are different in their shape and size, they’ll often have different values and views on success. Generic training and development will never give the organisation the succession planning structure that it needs. Choose a leadership development provider that delves into the character of the business and shifts the training to suit your organisational culture.

Focus on ‘we’ as well as ‘I’: Developing talent to claim that top spot one day is all well and good but they’ll never make it there on their own. It’s essential that those rising stars are fully aware of the importance or working in teams. When you select a leadership coaching team to work with, ensure that there is a focus on teams as well as on developing individual skills and behaviours.

Emotional Intelligence Assessment: Another crucial area of developing talent is around raising self-awareness using assessment. This means using various tools (including  personality profiling tools like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® and 360 degree feedback) to help managers understand their impact on those around them. This is a critical stage in leadership development and should not be ignored. Using the various testing tools, managers can get a clear and concise appraisal of their management style. With better self-awareness managers can then grow their repertoire of leadership and management styles.

These are just some of the key components that our clients ask us about when they partner with us to provide bespoke in-house leadership development programmes.

There are plenty more, and if you want to get in touch to discuss the key points that you would like to see in a programme that could provide the platform for an effective succession planning system, get in touch.

Who will be the next CEO of your organisation?

Colin Graves

Executive Coaching at Iridium Consulting

(You can read the full report we refer to in this article by clicking here.)