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Leadership & Succession

The study of Leadership, Leadership Development and Management is relevant in any political, social, global as well as organizational settings. Whether Leaders are ‘born or made’ is a cliché by now that has its merit on both extremes of the scale. Leadership is a process as well as practice. It is the process by which one person influences others to accomplish the objectives and gives a direction to the organization in such a way that it makes the organization more cohesive and coherent. Leaders implement this process by experimenting and applying their leadership competencies and style.

On the other hand leadership is the practice of accepting responsibility so as to enable others to accomplish shared purpose and goals under ambiguous and uncertain conditions. When Leadership is a practice, it does not necessarily require formal authority. Authority can be an asset, but can also be a constraint (Heifetz, 1994). Leadership is also not about being popular. It is also not about the use of cohesive forces to secure compliance (Burns, 1978). Five core processes interact to emerge leadership – building committed relationships for common goals, turning personal values in to sources of motivation, turning resources into capacity to achieve mobilizing and deploying resources purposefully and directed towards goals and structuring authority to facilitate the effective distribution of Leadership (Ganz, 2010).

When leaders move on, retire or choose to pursue a career or interests in another organization, the orderly process of identifying, preparing and ‘making someone else ready’ for the said leadership role, is called Leadership Succession Planning. Effective Succession Planning is not an isolated event. In many organizations the process of Leadership Succession is well embedded in the organizational system and the process regularly yields resources who are ‘ready to take charge’. Much of this activity is about senor leaders of the organization closely observing the top performers in an on-going evaluation process, thereby identifying prospects of future leadership. This constitutes the leadership pipeline of an organization which consistently generates a pool of future leaders. Leadership Succession Planning is a strategic OD intervention and is based upon the following key premises:

  • Is the current leadership population in the organization sufficient to meet the future leadership needs of the organization?
  • Which are the competencies that the future organizational leaders need to have vis-à-vis the changing business scenario?
  • Does the organization have a Top Talent identification strategy and an assessment mechanism in place to determine if these identified top talents are the right incumbents for future leadership?
  • Does the organization have a specific Leadership Development Program on intervention to develop future leaders?
  • Is there a mechanism to monitor and measure the efficacy of such a Leadership Development Program to analyze, if it is really working and yielding future leaders?
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