The Point: There is a growing leadership void left behind by retiring baby boomer leaders. Human Resource Executives are finding it difficult to identify/locate replacements. Part of the difficulty lies in defining leadership, developing leaders, and ability to deliver such development opportunities effectively. What’s a poor leader to do if they can’t identify/create a succession plan? Perhaps they could delay/refuse to retire? Seriously though, read on for details on the problems, as well as solutions to create successful succession plans… Enjoy!
Succession Planning is More Difficult in Today’s Economy
Nearly two out of every three Human Resource (HR) Executives that participated in a recent poll claim that succession planning is more difficult in today’s economy (The actual number was 59%). Their comments were captured in The Global Workforce Leadership Survey conducted by SABA (A large HR software service provider). With approximately four (4) million baby boomers retiring each/every year, there simply isn’t enough quality candidates to fill this void.
The findings of the survey show that the biggest obstacles for powering future business growth are threefold: (1) Differences in perspective surrounding leadership, (2) Leadership development, and (3) Accessibility to online tools for that leadership development.
Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are – The Leader Within That Is!
Human Resource Executives report difficulties in identifying leadership in current employees nearly half the time (46%). Part of this difficulty lies in employees that rarely list leadership skills (only 36% do).
But this begs the question, and lies at the heart of this fundamental problem… What are Human Resources Executives doing if they (1) don’t cultivate a leadership development environment and (2) how do they not know their own employees?
Technical Skills Aren’t Enough
Marshall Goldsmith, one of my mentors in Stakeholder Centered Coaching, is famous for his line regarding “What got you here, won’t get you there.” In other words, according to Marshall your technical skills will get you your first leadership position, but it’s your non-technical skills that will get you your second. What exactly are these non-technical skills though?
Non-technical skills are often considered “soft” skills. They have nothing to do with the specifics of your job (Engineering, Finance, Marketing, etc.) However, they have everything to do with the performance/quality/results of your job. Think of these non-technical skills as consistent qualities that leaders posses regardless of function and you get the idea (Time management, project management, communication skills for leaders, etc.)
So Where Are All The Future Leaders?
I shared The Global Workforce Leadership Survey results with a client of mine, and her response was a classic! “Sam, what were you expecting? Have you ever tried to complete a job application on a SABA run software system?” In less than an instant I knew exactly what she was saying. The truth of the matter is that I have in fact completed a job application online using a SABA run system and found the process to be brain damage! I know that career moves are supposed to be taken seriously, and time to complete an application should not be a consideration. However, I seriously doubt that a Millenial generation (or any other generation for that matter) is willing to put themselves through this long, tedious, and laborious process. I doubt any of the other job applicant software packages are any easier though.
So if you, your organization are like the Human Resource Executives that participated in this survey, you probably are having a difficult time locating employees that want to step into leadership positions (or worse yet, are choosing incorrectly from your talent pool!) Here’s a thought… Why not ask current baby boomer leadership who should/shouldn’t be considered prior to their departure?
So in this post, we’ve taken a look at how succession planning is more difficult in today’s economy, how part of the problem might just be human resource executives reliance on brain damaging software systems for applicant tracking, if you are relying on your technical expertise to carry you up the leadership ladder you’re kidding yourself, and a potential solution regarding how you can/should/might locate future leadership for your organization.
PS – You may also enjoy some of the other recent posts I wrote:
- The Leadership Challenge: Why HR Isn’t Developing YOU as a Leader
- The Leadership Challenge: Helping Those That Don’t Want Help
- The Leadership Challenge: Saying “Thank You”
- The Leadership Challenge: Are You Mindful?
- The Leadership Challenge: Are You Better Off Lucky Than Good?
- The Leadership Challenge: Can You Drive the Development of Leaders Who Transform Your Business?
- What’s Inside Your Leadership Time Capsule?
- The Leadership Challenge: 10 Characteristics to Develop Your Executive Presence
- The Leadership Challenge: Happy New Year! Now What?
- Leadership Amnesia: Should You Forget the Past to Move Forward to a Better Future?
- The Leadership Challenge: Are Your SMART Goals DUMB?
- The Leadership Challenge: Are You Climbing the Leadership Mountain?
- The Leadership Challenge: They Want You To Fail! 8 Leadership Tips to Overcome Failure
- The Leadership Challenge: Do You Exercise Your Moral Muscle?
- The Leadership Challenge: Conducting Post-Mortem Reviews
Sam Palazzolo is the Managing Director at Tip of the Spear Ventures, an agile Venture Capital and Business Advisory Services firm specializing in Executive Coaching, Leadership Development, and Communication Skills Training for Leaders.