Organizations always talk about succession planning, yet few implement effective mentoring programs. The heart of leadership development is desiring your successor to be more successful than yourself. True succession planning is taking your ego out of the agenda. Here's three steps for effective succession planning.
1) Invest. Choose someone. There is no "perfect" candidate. Most people think leadership development is finding someone who is just like you. Leadership is about results, not style. The first step is about pouring your heart and mind into someone else's life. Teach them what you've learned. Share your experiences with them. Prevent them from making the same mistakes you did.
2) Develop their Style. It's not about you. Identify what your potential successor's strengths are and give them opportunities to maximize them. Part of knowing your strengths is realizing what your weaknesses are too. Learn to delegate tasks that others do better. Help your successor stay focused on the big picture (mission, vision, etc.) How they decide to reach those goals is their business. Put yourself in their shoes. Would you want someone telling you how to do your job?
3) Let them Go. After proper training, it's time for you to move on. The current leader needs to step out of the way in order for the future leader to step into their new role. This can be the most difficult phase because it's realizing that the current era is over and a new era is beginning. Reject the idea to micromanage. Part of learning is trial and error. The best thing you can do as a leader is just be supportive. Your season is up. Their season is starting. Measure how successful of a leader you are based on who you develop.
Leadership development is a long and challenging process. It takes humility to know when your time is up. Focus your attention on the legacy you want to leave. A litmus test is seeing how your successor functions when you're not around. A leader is never bigger than the process. Start today by investing, developing and releasing your future leaders!