cropped-cropped-main3-2.jpg

Succession Planning: What Traits Are Needed

Ian Cameron May 1, 2014 12:03:00 PM

Succession_PlanningTime is moving on, people are moving on, retiring or leaving the company. You know there will be openings to fill not that far in the future. You want to review some of your employees as possible replacements for those leaving management positions. Your company may even have several employees in mind, but what criteria should you use to evaluate these individuals? What is the yardstick to measure future leaders against?

If you start soon enough there's time for you to help them acquire any skills or insight that they may need before the positions open up, but you have to identify the people and identify any gaps in skills or traits. Good succession planning is needed.

In working with our clients for the past 40-plus years, we've identified four basic steps to a successful succession management program:

  1. Determine job requirements
  2. Identify high potentials
  3. Conduct a gap analysis
  4. Execute a development plan

We explore these steps and how to apply them in a whitepaper 4 Steps to Effective Succession Planning and you can download it here if you want to read more about them.

One of the biggest challenges for any organization can be that first step: determining what you need in your future leaders. What are the traits that you will need in a leader to take your company successfully into the future?

A search of the internet will reveal a number of sources suggesting the qualities that make a good leader.

Forbes Magazine published the Top 10 Qualities That Make a Great Leader. They included honesty, ability to delegate, communication, sense of humour, confidence, commitment, positive attitude, creativity, intuition, and the ability to inspire. Another list from Leadership Advisor Inc. include: Character, such as personal values in regard to the company and to others. Are they consistent, shown initiative? Next comes Context, such as having a true understanding of the issues within the organization. Are they familiar with the culture of the company, including the dynamics of the company's organization?Competency includes the demonstration of specific strengths that will be needed in a leadership position. Are they able to communicate in a straightforward manner? Do they seem to comprehend the reality of situations?

Rachel Farrell of CareerBuilder.com interviewed five leadership professionals and listed what they felt were the traits that make a good leader in this article. Some of the traits identified were honestycompassionconfidencerespect, humility, communication and excellent persuasive skills.  

In The Globe and Mail, Telus EVP and Chief Commercial Officer, Joe Natale listed his Five Key Leadership Traits for 2014The traits he listed were:

  • The ability to zoom... find the most critical area to focus on.
  • The ability to lead in a complex environment... someone who can accomplish what is needed without direct authority.
  • An exceptional ability to communicate.
  • The ability to learn and to teach.
  • Authenticity

You can see a common theme running through many of these lists. Communication, being authentic, being able to see the situations as they are and then able to encourage others to come together to take care of what needs to be done.

Take time at this first step in the succession planning process and really explore the make-up of who you need in these critical roles. It's these traits that don't appear on a resume that define real success.

If you want help, The McQuaig System is designed to do exactly this: define the traits required for success and find the people who have them. We'd love to talk about your challenges and see if we can help. Wherever you are in the process of preparing for your company's future, take a moment and read our whitepaper, 4 Steps to Effective Succession Planning, and give some thought to how you would employ those strategies at your company.

Please share your thoughts and challenges on succession planning in the comments section and keep the conversation going.

Effective Succession Management

Topics: Leadership development, Coaching and Development

Ian Cameron

Written by Ian Cameron

Ian Cameron is the Managing Director of The McQuaig Institute®. He has more than 20 years of Human Resource and Organizational Development consulting experience. Throughout his career Ian’s focus has been on helping organizations realize their goals through their people and helping people live their passion through their work.