Developing the Next Generation of Leaders

Strategies for developing a sustainable leadership pipeline for succession planning.


By Prof Sattar Bawany, Senior Advisor, Cegos Asia


A company’s leadership pipeline is expected to deliver its next generation of ready-now leaders. The payoff is a supply of leadership talent that simultaneously achieves targets, bolsters and protects ethical reputation, and navigates transformational change in pursuit of a bright, competitive future. Unfortunately, some Boards and CEOs neglect their talent management accountability; consequently, their pipelines run dry. When this occurs, the downward spiral of competitive capability becomes discernable, the edge is lost, and the magic disappears. The competition begins to outwit, outflank and outperform these companies.
The biggest trap new leaders fall into is believing they will continue to be successful by doing what has made them successful in the past. There is an old saying, “To a person who has a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” New leaders should focus first on discovering what it will take to be successful in the new role, then discipline themselves to do the things that don’t come naturally if the situation demands it.

Strategies for developing the next generation of leaders

New leaders are expected to hit the ground running. They must produce results quickly while simultaneously assimilating into the organisation. The result is that a large number of newly recruited or promoted managers fail within the first year of starting new jobs.
A longitudinal research undertaken by the author over the past 15 years found that there are three main areas where leadership transitions derail:
• Alignment with Strategic Direction:
Individual expectations of the leader as well as the functions are not aligned with organisational goals and strategic direction. More importantly, there is no dialogue to create alignment.
• Expanding Leadership Competence:
The organisation lacks clarity on requirements, the emotional intelligence competencies and leadership capabilities best suited for the role. Building their own leadership expertise, including ontological humility, high level of self-awareness, learning to build an effective leadership team, to manage the performance of others and develop others with managerial coaching skills.
• Expanding Organisation Competence:
Leaders have to understand the business processes that create economic value for the organisation. Higher levels of leadership have to understand when and how to redesign these processes to accomplish the strategy as well as understand the capabilities needed to operate these processes.
In times of transition there is a very short window in which a leader has to learn about the business, the function or divisions, his team and employee capabilities, etc. This learning is more complicated when the leader encounters a geographical or organisational culture that is different from past experiences.
Organisations may offer executive coaching to leaders in transition as this will achieve three overall goals: to accelerate the transition process by providing justin- time advice and counsel, to prevent mistakes that may harm the business and the leader’s career, and to assist the leader in developing and implementing a targeted, actionable transition plan that delivers business results.