The Widening Gap Between Leaders and Up-and-coming Leaders…and What to Do About It

Never in our time has there been a greater need for
outstanding leaders. Regulatory changes and changes to the international
economic landscape have made it challenging for today’s leaders to achieve the
results they need to survive, never
mind the results they need to thrive.
There is, however, much that can be done to confront these challenges head-on. What’s
needed to overcome what I call the “leadership crisis,” is not new technology
or massive staffing changes.  What’s
needed is a shift in focus towards recognizing, supporting and developing leaders
who possess both a strong “inner-core” of character and conviction and “outer-core”
of leadership capability. These leaders, old guard and new, must be able to think
creatively and critically at the same time. They must strategize effectively
and respond with speed and competence to high-pressure situations.

Succession planning programs
are meant to address the need for strong leaders, however the gap between those
currently in leadership positions and the next wave of leaders is growing by
the day, and these programs have not been designed to keep up with the
accelerated pace dictated by this dramatic shift in demographics. By some
estimates, up to 40-70% of any organization’s management population is
currently eligible to retire. And of course, the succession planning debate is
not only about having the right number of people to step into leadership roles;
the quality and state of readiness of those who will take over leadership is even
more vital to an organization’s success.                                                    

To address the leadership
crisis from both angles (the need for both enough
people and more importantly the right
people), innovative practices such as job rotation, leadership development
through coaching, mentoring, action-learning, and next-generation behavioral
performance evaluation must all be considered. All of these practices, and
other methods of identification and tracking of leaders, will be required to
increase the speed with which organizations develop talent. The challenge is to
put these and other innovative tools to use in a structured manner to build an
enduring leadership succession program. One way to achieve this is by starting
with a strong, compelling Succession
Management Value Proposition.

 In practical
terms, an organization’s Succession Management Value Proposition (SMVP) is the holistic
sum of the following practices:
(1) Demarcation-performance
(2) Diagnostic—objectively assessing leaders andpotential leaders;
(3) Deployment-structured meetings to integrate performance and
potential assessments, calibrate capability, determine development options, and
identify potential replacement scenarios; and
(4) Development—coaching, on-the-job development and training programs.

There exists no
better way to create the belief in the value of the human capital asset, than
by demonstrating the connectedness between winning succession practices and
operational success. As I discuss in my book Talent Leadership, a strong SMVP foundation leads to:
(1) Capability-“Can Do”;
(2) Commitment-“Will Do”; and
(3) Alignment-“Must Do”.
To put in
different words, a strong SMVP is the foundation for any organization to build
and sustain a culture in which leaders and future leaders become continuously
more capable, committed and aligned. In fact, organizations of all sizes that
excel in promoting and developing leadership talent—with a focus and unwavering
commitment to optimizing these “leading” indicators achieve impressive results.

About John Mattone
John Mattone is a sought-after keynote speaker, trainer and coach to
many leading corporations and government agencies. John has been recognized by
the prestigious Thinkers50 as one of
the world’s leading management thinkers and by Leadership Excellence Magazine as one of the world’s top leadership
speakers and executive coaches. John is the author of seven books, including
the best-selling,
Leadership: A Proven Method for Identifying and Developing High-Potential
(October, 2012).  John’s
newest book,
Leadership: What You Need to Know to Unlock Your Full Potential
is set for release
in hardcover in April, (
digital versions are already
available for purchase).  Connect with
John by email at, follow him on Twitter and like his page
Facebook and visit his website.