How’s your Succession Planning & Leadership Development?


Is your business built for the future? OK, that may be a loaded question. So, how about, do you have a strategy in place to develop your people and train leaders for tomorrow? Or are you too busy managing the day-to-day, putting out fires, and managing customer expectations.

Actually, you can, and should, do it all – develop your people, prepare future leaders, and manage the business.

So, how deep is your bench? As a sports analogy, a deep bench indicates strength in available talent who are prepared to replace top players. The exact same is needed for organizations who strive for stability and long-term growth. Fortifying your bench involves succession planning and leadership development.

Let’s look at two key areas to ensure your business is built for the future: succession planning and leadership development.

Succession planning and leadership development are two critical components of organizational growth and continuity. A succession plan ensures that an organization has a plan for leadership transitions. Leadership development helps build a pipeline of future leaders who are prepared to step into these roles.

And it’s not just about the top-dogs in the C-suite! Succession planning should be implemented at all levels of the organization, from entry-level positions to executive leadership. This ensures that the organization has a deep pool of talent to draw from when it comes time to fill key leadership roles.

Identifying and developing potential leaders early on also helps retain top talent by providing career development opportunities.

A key aspect of succession planning is identifying key leadership roles within the organization. These roles may include executive positions, but also include other critical roles that are essential to the success of the organization.

Once these roles are identified, a clear understanding of the skills and competencies required for these roles should be developed. This helps identify potential candidates who possess these skills and competencies – or have the potential to aspire to these roles.

Not everyone is destined for a leadership role. Therefore, it’s important to identify high-potential employees from high-performers. Many people perform great in their current role but may not have the DNA for ascending to leadership positions.

Identifying potential candidates for key leadership roles is critical for the success of a succession plan. This requires a thorough understanding of the skills and competencies required for leadership roles specific to the culture of your organization. Potential candidates may be identified through a variety of means. This includes performance evaluations, leadership assessments, and 360-degree feedback.

Once potential candidates have been identified, personal development plans should be created for each individual. This may include coaching and mentorship programs, leadership training courses, and on-the-job training opportunities.

It’s important to note that leadership development should be a continuous process,. They should focus on developing both technical and soft, or power, skills.

Succession Planning - a Difference Maker

Developing leaders

The lack of a formal succession plan can lead to disruptions and instability within an organization. According to ATD (Association of Talent Development), only 35% of organizations have a formalized succession plan in place for critical roles.

Without a formal succession plan, organizations may struggle with several variables. This includes obstacles to retain top talent, disruptions and instability during leadership transitions, and failure to meet long-term goals and objectives.

Developing a successful succession plan requires careful planning and execution. This includes identifying key leadership roles. Develop a clear understanding of the skills and competencies required for these roles. Identify potential candidates.  And develop a plan to prepare potential candidates for these roles.

It’s important to establish a timeline for leadership transitions, and regularly review and update the succession plan.

Despite the proven benefits of succession planning, there are several reasons why organizations may not have a formal succession plan strategy in place:

  • Lack of Awareness: Some organizations may not be aware of the importance of succession planning or the potential risks associated with not having a plan in place.
  • Short-Term Thinking: Organizations may focus primarily on short-term goals and objectives, rather than taking a long-term view of leadership development and succession planning.
  • Resource Constraints: Developing a formal succession plan can require significant resources in terms of time, money, and personnel. Some organizations may not have the necessary resources to develop and implement a comprehensive plan.
  • Resistance to Change: Developing a formal succession plan may require changes to an organization’s culture, leadership structure, and management practices. Some organizations may be resistant to change or may not want to disrupt the status quo.
  • Overconfidence: Organizations may assume that their current leadership team will remain in place for the foreseeable future and may not see the need to develop a succession plan.

Regardless of the reason, it’s important for organizations to recognize the potential risks associated with not having a formal succession plan in place and take steps to develop and implement a plan that is tailored to their specific needs and goals. By doing so, they can ensure continuity and build for the future.

Importance of Leadership Development

illustration of developing leaders

Leadership development is also critical for the long-term success of an organization. A strong pipeline of future leaders helps ensure continuity. In addition, it helps ensure the ability to adapt to changing market conditions.

According to a study by Deloitte, organizations that invest in leadership development programs outperform their peers by a significant margin. The study found that companies with strong leadership development programs were 1.5 times more likely to be in the top quartile of financial performance within their industry. In addition, these organizations were also more likely to have strong employee engagement and retention rates, as well as a culture of innovation and growth.

Leadership development should be focused on developing both technical and soft skills – often referred to as power skills. In addition, what relevant opportunities can your organization provide for employees to gain the experience to benefit their personal development while providing stability for the organization?

Providing coaching and mentorship programs is one effective way to develop future leaders within the organization. These programs provide employees with the opportunity to work closely with experienced leaders, gain valuable feedback, and develop critical skills that are necessary for success in leadership roles.

Another effective way to develop future leaders is collaborating with the L&D or HR staff to create a comprehensive leadership training platform. Instructional designers can develop engaging and informative courses on a wide range of topics, including strategic planning, communication skills, and change management.

By creating a strategic pathway for current and future leaders to expand their skill set, knowledge, and experience for leadership roles in the organization, benefits everyone. For the most post, leaders aren’t born. They are trained how to be good leaders.

There are many pathways in compiling a leadership development training program in your organization. It is critical that leadership skills are included in the organization’s overall employee training and development efforts.

Here are a few examples that can be included:

On-the-Job Training: On-the-job training provides employees with hands-on experience and real-world scenarios to help them develop the skills they need to become effective leaders. These programs can include job shadowing, cross-training, and project-based assignments.

Succession Planning Workshops: Succession planning workshops can help organizations develop and implement a formal succession plan. These workshops typically include training on how to identify potential leaders, how to develop leadership skills, and how to create a plan for transitioning leadership roles.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Training: DEI training programs help employees develop the skills they need to lead diverse teams and create inclusive workplace cultures. These programs can cover a wide range of topics, from cultural competency to unconscious bias, and can help organizations create more equitable and inclusive workplaces.

Although DEI training is a must for leaders, every employee at each level of an organization can benefit from this training. There is no down-side. Incorporating this training into the organization’s culture will create stability, enhance retention, inspire collaboration.

Professional Certifications: Many professional associations offer certifications in leadership and management. These certifications can provide employees with the skills and knowledge they need to become effective leaders. It can also help them demonstrate their expertise to others within the organization and in the wider industry. Additionally, an organization can create their own internal achievement levels to recognize employees’ efforts in their personal development.

By investing in these types of leadership development training programs, organizations can help ensure that they have a strong pipeline of future leaders, who are equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to lead the organization to success.


Creating a solid succession plan and leadership development program doesn’t happen overnight. However, starting – or enhancing – your current efforts will yield tremendous benefits for the organization and your people. When both are baked-in to the culture of the company, it creates stability for the business. Again, there is only an up-side to layering in both efforts to the organization’s strategic planning and learning & development endeavors.

If your organization wants to initiate your succession strategy and build a leadership development program, we can help. At RTG Solutions Group, we help organizations like yours build for now – and the future through People, Process, and Communication. Contact us today!

“A vision cannot be realized without the ability to execute.”

Khris K. Bhattan
President, RTG Solutions Group
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