Advancement & Succession: Who Moves Up? Who Would Take My Place?

An often overlooked aspect of leadership are the two ideas of the advancing of leaders and succession.  Good organizations have leader training and succession plans.  In fact, some companies must have a succession plan in place in order to receive certain certifications and or accreditation. 

I have noticed among my coaching clients that several have not considered who may follow them into their role as they move up.  And, as they lead, they are usually unaware that they should be considering who needs to advance.  In fact, it becomes an issue of taking on too much when there is not intentionality towards raising up leaders. 

I believe that part of a leader’s responsibility should be watching for those he/she leads who have the potential to be leaders.  It boils down to the leader asking these questions:

  • Who should I be pouring into as a potential leader?
  • Who might be my successor?
  • How do I train these potentials to get them to the next level?

Once a leader adopts this mentality and identifies candidates, he/she must begin the process to shaping the potential leader.  Here are some things to consider:

  • Choose potentials who are both like you and different from you:  Compare your strengths and weaknesses to theirs.  Where would they be a good fit?
  • Look for those who have initiative:  Can you give them a task and they run with it?  Do they seem to think like you and take a next step without your prompting?
  • Look for influence as a trait:  Do others look to these potentials for guidance, vision, motivation? 
  • Competence:  Do they know what they are doing?
  • Trust and safety:  Can you trust them?  Do they work from a place of integrity?  Do others feel safe with them?

These are just some high-level view type attributes to look for.  Obviously, there would be more to consider. 

Once you have potentials identified, it’s time to move them forward.  Do not assume they know.  Take time to let them know what you see and that you are wanting to help them “move up”.  Make sure each one is interested.  A common mistake is to push someone who does not really have the desire to move into a leadership role.  Once you have established this potential move, it is time to train and mentor. 

Here is a simple model to follow.  Recognize that this is just a model.  You must take into account technical competencies, your style, and company policies.  Use these as a prompt and shape them to meet your needs:

  • “I do, you watch.”  — They observe you leading.  You point out the intricacies of your craft.  Have them ask questions.  There is not a determined amount of time this phase will take.  Read them and your situation to make a decision when to move to the next step.
  • “We do it together.” – Based on what they have observed and learned, they take parts of the task at hand and you take parts.  Collaborate often in this stage.  Give feedback where needed although not much because you are doing together. 
  • “You do it, I watch and give feedback.” – Based on how the doing it together goes, launch them into “taking the reins”.  They may not do it exactly as you envision, but hold your correction until after in a feedback session.  Let them make mistakes.  Only intervene if the “train is going to jump the tracks”.  
  • “You go solo, I’ll mentor.” – At some point, it is time to launch your potential on his/her own.  You may occasionally observe.  You may want to set up mentoring times and just have them explain what issues or successes he or she may have. 

This method is simplistic.  Each phase requires an amount of time equal to your goals.  However, if you follow this model (adjusted to your needs), then you should be able to develop a competent, trustworthy leader or successor. 

My hope is that you are intentionally pouring into potential leaders.  Our world needs more good leaders.  Furthermore, if we as leaders take on too much because we feel we are the only ones who can “do what we do”, a mighty fall may be just around the corner.

Look around you today and see who you should be developing.  Start TODAY!

By Byron Myers

Byron is a weekend leader and completed his initial Crucible weekend in 2009. His deepest desire is to help people believe in their God-given goodness and live lives of integrity, authenticity and feel loved and accepted. Byron is the author of the ebook, Weekly Devotional Thoughts: Weekly Applications of God’s Word. Byron is the High School Principal at Midland Christian School in Midland, TX and a successful Business and Personal Life Coach. Follow Byron at Weekly Devotional Thoughts.

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