5 Steps to develop your successor

Many a time, leaders lament about going for a vacation. The standard complaint is that there is so much to do after you come back from the vacation, that you need another vacation to de-stress from that post-vacation work pile-up! Yet, there are other leaders, who are able to take a couple of weeks off, without any pressure and with remarkable ease. In fact, I have often heard them say that things work smoothly in their absence and everyone knows what to do. There is almost a sense that if they were away longer, their organizations would figure out that they are not needed (lol)!

Which side of the spectrum are you, dear reader? Do you have a robust team in place? Do you have a strong second line of leadership that is independent and responsible? Leadership is ultimately about developing other leaders. Initially, you may have been preoccupied with working "IN" the business. But if you have a desire to scale your own and your company's growth, you should try to develop your second line so that you can devote additional time to working "ON" the business.

Among the many reasons that can inhibit a leader’s growth, one of the most neglected ones is a lack of a successor. It stands to reason, however, that your organization will find it difficult to promote you to a higher level unless they know that there is someone who is capable of taking over your role with the minimum break in business continuity. Have you given it some thought? Have you identified your successor and groomed that leader?

Here are three things that you can do to develop your second line:

1. Know your team and their aspirations

The first and the most important step is to get to know your team beyond the role that they perform for you and the organization. You must know their areas of interest and future career aspirations. This is possible only when you have spent time having deeper engaging conversations with them beyond work such that they trust you enough to share their career goals with you. It is also necessary to understand each individuals’ strengths weaknesses and potential in order for you to earmark two or three people who could be groomed to take on your role in the future. You must be certain that there is a synergy between their career goals and the organization's goals and that they are motivated to work diligently towards becoming future-ready leaders.

2. Prioritise Developmental Conversations:

It is quite ironical that most leaders spend an extraordinary amount of time fire fighting and not enough on grooming their second line. It is imperative to reallocate time such that you give priority to the development of your successor. Leaders can schedule these as monthly developmental conversations and block the calendar in advance to give them the importance it deserves. Even more critical is to not allow other urgencies regarding clients or senior colleagues to take precedence over these conversations. The time together can be used by the junior colleague to have any mentoring conversation she/he desires.

3. Master the art of candid & compassionate feedforward:

The one thing that many leaders are afraid of is candid feedforward. As a manager, you must master the art of giving feedforward that is specific and actionable. It becomes even more critical if the person in question is your proposed successor. As his growth champion, it is up to you to maintain extreme transparency and guide him/ her towards a more desired behavior. This is not a conversation to be avoided. In fact, with the right attitude, it can become a two-way sharing leading to the growth of both the people involved. The only caveat here is to remember that the tone of feedforward is as important as the content, maybe more so. At no point must the receiver feel blamed. The tone will establish how well your feedforward is received.

4. Find a few things to delegate

One organization I know has a culture where every quarter, a leader delegates two of his important tasks to the next line. By the end of two years, the successor is ready to take on the role of the leader. This is very insightful because nothing can match the benefits of experiential learning. The gradual process also ensures a gentle expansion of capacity rather than a feeling of sudden load. If you find this interesting, you too can identify a few tasks out of your own task list and delegate those to the second line. If you do this consistently every quarter, you too will have your successor ready in no time!

5. Create learning opportunities

it is quite widely accepted that nothing matches the development that is created through on-the-job learning. As a leader who is developing the second line, it may be worthwhile to proactively create more learning opportunities for your team. This may include aspects like additional projects or job switches which give your juniors a window into other aspects of the function that you lead. This can be extremely enriching for the incumbent and help them get a more holistic understanding of what the next job entails. You can also recommend them for leadership development programs internally as well as externally which gives them the chance to understand the finer nuances of leadership.

Ultimately having a robust second line is highly advantageous to you as well as your organization. In fact, it is a win-win for all. Who knows, one day you may be able to return from a vacation and get a status report of how smoothly everything functioned in your absence. That would be the right time to pitch for your promotion!

Yoshita Swarup Sharma:

Founder & CEO - A Brighter Life | ICF Certified Executive Coach | Leadership facilitator | NLP Practitioner| Inner Transformation Specialist

Yoshita Swarup Sharma, CEO & Co-Founder of A Brighter Life, is an internationally certified executive coach (PCC). For the last eleven years, she has coached several senior leaders and CXO across the variety of industries and organizations. Recently she was awarded as one of the most influential coaching leaders of India by the World HRD Congress. She's a leadership facilitator, advanced NLP Practitioner and a specialist on personal transformation. She writes her blog from her own experiences and reflections . She brings with her 23 years of overall work experience and has previously worked as a Marketing professional in corporates like Coca-Cola, Dabur and Ranbaxy She's also a Kathak student and co-founder of Subah, A Covid Widow support group

Contact Yoshita Swarup Sharma: https://www.linkedin.com/in/yoshita-swarup-sharma/ Get in touch with us: https://www.abrighterlife.in/get-in-touch


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