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South Africa’s Leadership hope lies in Succession Planning

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Planning strategically for the next Leader Planning strategically for the next Leader

In August this year SHL Group revealed, results from its first Leadership study, with the headline – "UK’s Talent Time Bomb". The study identifies the top 25 countries based on the analysis of leadership potential of over a million people from SHL’s global Talent Analytics database. Hong Kong and the UK have more effective leaders today than any other country in the study whilst South Africa, Mexico and Brazil score among the lowest.


The picture changes significantly when analysing the supply of leadership talent for the future. Mexico, Turkey and Egypt have the greatest source of potential future leaders. In contrast, the UK drops 18 places; Hong Kong falls from pole position to 20th and South Africa doesn’t appear on the index at all.


Past experience shows that poorly executed succession plans can have an immediate negative impact on company leadership, reputation, employee morale and the bottom line. Any business or public sector organisation, irrespective of its size, should have a strategy to deal with losing talent, whether it’s planned or unplanned. This strategy should not simply be focused on the C-suite, but applied to every level of an organisation. To maximise business performance and continuity, effective succession planning needs to develop long-term successors as well as short-term replacements. Organisations need to navigate their way through a number of succession planning challenges and focus on the three key areas outlined below.


Align people strategy to business strategy:

Organisations are structured and operate differently, but the best succession planning practices are those anchored to organisational strategy. Companies need to understand what talent they have to enable them to deliver business results now, whilst also focusing on groups of individuals that will deliver this value in the future, as far as 3 to 5 years’ out.


Identify true potential:

In an era of talent shortages and the changing expectations of the workforce there is a greater requirement to understand and align individual aspirations to business requirements. Underpinning all of this should be an objective scientific approach to succession planning which avoids management bias and reflects how an individual has performed in their current role. It produces objective data about an individual’s potential, collected through assessments that will become crucial to inform succession planning decisions.


Ensure readiness:

If an organisation decides to appoint high potential talent, it needs to ensure that this talent is experienced and ready. Businesses cannot afford false starts and need to guarantee their new leaders can make an impact from the outset. Often, however, organisations can miss a trick by taking too narrow a view of what is needed to succeed as a new leader.

Relying just on their behavioural capability is insufficient. HR working alongside line managers, need to gain a robust and holistic perspective of future success. Of equal importance are three factors: understanding an individual’s behavioural capacity and capability to deliver in roles of increased accountability, their relevant knowledge and experience to make the right decision.

No one source of data will provide this level of insight, but assessing future leaders requires a partnership between organisational insight and people intelligence gathered from diagnostic tools and techniques.

The best way an organisation can navigate their approach to succession planning success is to scientifically measure talent through objective assessment.

Last modified on Tuesday, 02 October 2012 09:22

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