Moving On Up: A Two-Part Succession Plan For Dummies by Leslie Juvin-Acker
You just so happen to be next in line for a promotion and it’s your turn to take the torch of responsibility in order to go further than your predecessor. Sounds like a lot of pressure, doesn’t it? Believe me, I get you, so take my experience of coaching successors so you can hit the ground running.
A lot of people only think of the prestige and the benefits to be gained from a promotion, thinking, Ooh, what will I do with my bonus check? A nice vacation, maybe? Child, you haven’t been on the job longer than a hot minute and you’re already thinking about a vacation?! It’s time to switch gears and get into a higher perspective - a more enlightened perspective - about leadership.
When it comes to succession planning, I’m charged with assuring the person who is going to get promoted does a couple of things: A) not screw up what good works have already been established and B) have a plan that reflects he or she does indeed have a sound mind and truly merits the responsibility - not just because they’re “next in line”.
Succession planning is a twofold process: 1) getting the candidate mentally and emotionally primed for the job and 2) assuring their plan for the future of this position lines up with the organizational goals and values that are in place.
Part 1) Getting Primed For Success
When I think of preparing for a promotion, I see the montage of Rocky Balboa training for his big fight, finally running up the stairs of Philadelphia’s Museum of Art, feeling strong and ready to take on the challenge. This is where the mental battle begins: on the training ground.
Promotion isn’t just about the money or prestige, it’s about the commitment, responsibility, humility, and wisdom exercised in balance with the needs of others. Taking a look at ourselves and examining our attitudes about leadership is paramount to the process of promotions. Am I a do as I say, not as I do kind of boss? Do I actually listen to my colleagues, subordinates, and publics? Am I hungry for power and control or do I serve and lead to empower? Another one that I pick up on with executives is, Do I qualify people based on what they can do for me? and Am I judgemental?
It’s my job to strip away the God-complex to assure when it comes time to make a critical decision for the company, they don’t have their head shoved so far up where the sun doesn’t shine that they make costly and even irreversible mistakes. This includes making poor forecasts, alienating the team, dropping the ball on deliverables, and so forth. Attitude and insight determine whether or not a successor is worthy of the promotion and the service they’ll render.
Part 2) Having A Good Leadership Plan
I have seen new CEOs get booted in just a few months because they didn’t capture the hearts and minds of their publics - especially their employees. Failure to connect boils down to failing to have a plan to do so. This is just one of the ways a successor can drop the ball and waste time, if not temporarily reverse progress.
Having a solid plan to fight the ongoing battles of the position for the newly promoted leader is par for the course. There are landmines everywhere: disgruntled employees, poor sales performance, logistical nightmares, PR crises, and the list goes on. A successor who is not only well-researched and aware of their impending responsibilities to fix what is broken and lead their team into uncharted waters demonstrates a level of mastery and consciousness that few have successfully reached. Essentially, my job is to help their publics (employees, partners, board members, owners, and consumers) know for certain that this successor truly knows what he or she is doing - not just faking it until they make it.
So, whether you’re in consideration for a promotion or just earned one, consider these two essential parts:
1) A consciousness of your attitudes and perspectives about leadership.
2) A clear demonstration of business aptitude as defined by a general, if not specific plan that is aligned with the pressing needs and values of your public and organizations.
New responsibility is just that, a responsibility. Because, we’re not our job, our job is defined by us. So, if you’ve got your head up your ass and think you’ll just bully your way to success, you’ve got another thing coming - unemployment. Clarifying and working in line with more enlightened priorities are the natural fuel for the organization and motivation to take your performance to a whole new level.
Coach Leslie’s Questions To Ask Yourself:
1. What are my strengths and weaknesses as a leader? Where did the person before me go wrong and where did they succeed? What are the key take-aways from their wins and losses?
2. What are the unhealthy attitudes that hurt me as a leader? Do I qualify people? Am I judgemental? Am I fair and do I listen?
3. What is my true motivation for this promotion? The responsibilities and the difference I can make or the benefits such as money and prestige?
4. What are the current struggles of my predecessor? What advice can they glean from their experience? What wisdom can I leave behind for the person who is taking my job?
5. What key initiatives will I have to take on immediately upon taking the post? Who are the key stakeholders that I have to prove myself to?