May 12, 2009

Build To Last

Michael Smith’s article in the Australian Financial Review “Vacuum at the top as CEOs bow out” hits on a key issue ignored by far too many companies.

When is the right time to plan your succession?

How about: “When is the right time to build your future?”

As much as we all want to feel unique and special in life, there is no room for being irreplaceable in business.

The current issue with Steve Jobs at Apple best highlights the potential impact if companies ignore the obvious. On the other side of the planet is Incitec Pivot and Suncorp, now leaderless at a critical time.

If you factor in how long it takes to get up to speed in a job, multiplying that as you rise up the corporate ladder, companies are setting themselves up for losses if their leadership is not dealing with succession from day one. No matter how great the talent pool is, its potential needs to be fostered through a well-thought out and executed succession plan.

Why our clients see their critical results leap to breakthrough levels (increase in sales of 60% in two months, revenue up 200% in one year) is from thinking through the details from the future you want to happen now, not waiting to react when it’s too late.

Future-driven companies have that competitive edge. Miracles happen when the leadership team relates to all employees as the future of the organisation and recognises that future is built on thinking and actions in the present.

Then leadership and excellence shows up from any and all areas of the organisation. One of my first (and most memorable) bosses started as a receptionist. She was a fantastic leader, a star performer, later promoted to Vice President. She’s now running her own business. Imagine if her company hadn’t been willing to see her potential.

When is the time to plan your succession? Yesterday.