Experience, competency, and capability are the familiar domains of consideration in leadership succession, but it’s the character-based dimensions of talent readiness that make or break successful leadership transitions.


Cheryl Chantry

Cheryl Chantry

When traditional succession planning is augmented as a more strategic lever in talent identification and development, its impacts go well beyond the typical risk management lens through which it is often viewed. Opportunities emerge to truly nurture the top talent in an organization, amplifying loyalty and impact of succession talent on the inside.

Fostering growth of promising individuals internally and providing opportunities to learn from the CEO and board can fast-track preparedness for top leadership roles. A well-designed succession development program centered on nurturing internal talent not only refines the distinctive leadership skills required in readiness for larger roles, but can reduce the load of onboarding and preparing external hires.

The readiness required for CEOs to succeed in today’s complexity goes beyond operational and transactional leadership, and asks us as humans to look to the bigger picture of what we are trying to achieve. Context and character go together to create the deeper readiness that underpins most successful CEO transitions. Too few leaders get the support required to take the reins of their own character development, presence, and impact to prime them for the top spot.

To identify the top 1% of leaders, we need to understand what sets them apart and what particular competencies are most critical for success. What is different about these top leaders and which characteristics should be honed and nurtured?

A deliberately developmental approach is about taking the long view and working well in advance of the moment of readiness to help leaders build deep awareness, self-authored character development, and the transformative shifts in identity that shape and elevate true potential.

How does this leader react under criticism and critique—are they defensive and prickly, or able to stay open and curious? How well can the leader scale themselves through relationships? Do they control and dominate or are they able to co-create a vision that retains personal authority and stakeholder ownership? What type of leaders have they been able to build around them?

If you are thinking about this opportunity, for yourself or others, then take a deliberately developmental lens. In investing assertively and in novel ways to build the core character structures of leadership, you’ll be doing your organization and its required governance a great favor.

Contact Head of Coaching & Development Cheryl Chantry GAICD.  


Originally published by Australian Institute of Company Directors

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