Jack Welch has been quoted to say, “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others“. However, how many organizations have floundered and failed due to poor leadership development? Three strategies can help protect this from happening:
Preparation: Failure can happen when there is no adequate succession plan in place. For example, something may happen to a key leader, employees can retire and/or transfer, and if proper preparations haven’t been made, and no adequate replacements can be found, an organization will most like meander. To compound the issue, poorly prepared leaders might be promoted putting the long term prosperity of that business in jeopardy. The solution to these problems is to always be in preparation mode (Proverbs 24:27). This involves ensuring the next generation of leaders are never ignored through continual training and developmental efforts, and to always be on the lookout for external talent.
Validation: There are a myriad of examples illustrating the pitfalls failing to equip the next generation of leaders can cause, but one of the most dangerous to avoid is that of entitlement. This is when a person may feel entitled to the next promotional opportunity simply because they have the tenure, or because their boss promised them the role without question. This however is very harmful and dangerous to any organization, especially if the business feels obligated to promote such a person, even though they aren’t qualified. In short, positions of advancement should never be obtained by entitlement, but rather presented as opportunities to be earned. This ultimately benefits all involved because the person is validated in earning the position, rather than handed it. So, as leaders we must work to ensure our teams know promotions must be interviewed for and are never guaranteed, but earned (2 Timothy 2:6).
Qualification: Another pitfall to avoid is paying too much attention to the “squeaky wheel”. These folks aren’t necessarily not qualified, but they are the loudest in wanting more. Why is this dangerous? Shouldn’t we make our desires for advancement known? Yes, but sometimes the quiet ones, who are reliable, dependable, high performing and also qualified can get overlooked because the louder ones get the first look. For a business or team to be successful long term, we must always be seeking the most qualified, not the loudest. For we may risk not putting the most competent and committed person in the role in order to satisfy, perhaps temporarily, the one always seeking more and gone once the next best thing comes along (Ecclesiastes 5:10).
Application: “Success In Succession” – Proverbs 27:23
There is great wisdom and advantage in intentionally integrating succession planning in all we do as leaders and business owners. If we don’t, we may quickly realize we are on a sinking ship of our own creation. For as John Maxwell has wisely advised, “everything rising and falls on leadership“. So, let us be wise in our development of the talent on our teams.