Leadership Potential and Succession Planning

Succession planning is about discovering and developing leadership potential.  It is about being prepared for change, but also embracing change.  Succession planning is about leadership development.  Fortunately, there is actually a great deal known about how to select leaders.  There are now well over 10,000 books, articles, and presentations on leadership, and some reasonable consensus has emerged about the key issues related to this important topic.  But let's first start with a great definition:  


"Persuading others to transcend their personal concerns and to pursue a collective goal that is meaningful for a group and that will further their collective welfare; it is persuasion, not domination; it involves creating cohesive and mission-oriented teams; and effective leadership has a direct causal relationship to team performance."


Research strongly suggests the following set of predictors as the most reliable and valid indicators of leadership potential. 

Effective Predictor 1: 

The actual performance of the candidate’s team or organizational unit. 

Therefore, we must evaluate real-time performance data to aide in determining whether someone will make a good leader.

Effective Predictor 2: 

Peer, supervisor, and subordinate feedback on the candidate’s effectiveness has high predictive validity.  For example, it’s been demonstrated that subordinate ratings are as effective as (and much less expensive than) assessment center data in predicting managerial performance seven years later. 

Therefore, we must include 360° feedback instruments as a key component of the assessment process.

Effective Predictor 3:  


The presence of derailment factors in the candidate’s profile.  

Therefore, it is important to look for tendencies to over control, exploit, micro-manage, resist using appropriate consequences, or to be arrogant, political, egotistical, irritable, passive-aggressive, vindictive, abrasive, insensitive, or aloof.  All are proven correlates of managerial careers that flounder, stall, or derail.

Effective Predictor 4:

Cognitive ability and an additional five personality characteristics account for the most variance in leadership effectiveness. Therefore, we must measure the following psychological characteristics:

  • Does this person have a broad range of interests?  Is the person creative, broad-minded, curious, open to experience?
  •  Is this person prudent, motivated to achieve, organized and responsible?  Does this person have a strong work ethic built around integrity?
  •  Can this person be described as extraverted, assertive, full of high-energy, a fluent speaker, looking to advance, an eager decision maker, and persuasive – is the person "leader-like?"
  •  Can this person be described as self-confident, self-accepting, balanced, stress resistant, tolerant of uncertainty, graceful under pressure, flexible, and effective at handling conflict and negative feedback?
  •  Is this person diplomatic, cooperative, empathic, friendly, an effective communicator, trusting, and good-natured?

To find out more about our succession planning process contact us today!