Leadership Succession Rights

Have you ever watched the dynamics in an organization that needs to replace a leader because they are about to retire or they have resigned to work at another company?  You would think that the rules for succession had something in common with who will get the crown next in the royal family.  People start assuming that each person in line will assume the role ahead of them, and it is only the last person that needs to be replaced.

This only happens in organizations that operate without succession plans.  If your organization is keeping track of career aspirations, and creating skills within individuals to prepare them for future roles, this kind of jockeying for position is absent.

Succession planning is a lot of work, and is why a lot of organizations pass on them.  They believe that succession planning is costly and comes without guarantees.  This is true, and when you are dealing with human beings, there are a lot of variables that can cause even the most well executed plan to fall apart.  But is the latter, the chaos that comes with a resignation or announcement of retirement worth it?

For those that are in favor of the royal family approach to ascension of power, keep in mind that succession planning has been going on since their births.  The next king or queen is being groomed, along with the next couple more in line.   Government that is built on a monarchy system doesn’t leave anything to chance.  Yet our corporations often do leave things and people unprepared for what happens when someone leaves.

A simple test to determine where your company is today would be to ask what would happen if you resigned.  What would be the steps taken to replace you, or would you be replaced?  Would it be good for your team, and those in the organization you support?  Or would chaos ensue, to see who is the next you?

Leadership Succession isn’t about “rights” but about who would be best to take on a role.  Who would make the best person for the job and success for the company.  While infighting might be more entertaining to watch, it is hardly efficient.  What does your company need to do today to ensure smooth transitions tomorrow?

Recognize and Reward Your Manager

I’m about to turn everything on its head by discussing rewards and recognition from a completing different perspective.  Normally it is discussed in a workshop or verbal campaign directed to managers, and that it is part of good performance management to recognize and reward the efforts of their staff.  Now while this is still a must do part of being a good manager, how about we flip this in another direction?

All of us working for a company have a manager.  Think about how finding something to recognize them for would do to improve your working relationship.  Now I know some of you are rolling your eyes as you read this, “Jim you have no idea the type of manager I have, there is nothing to recognize that is good” but really there is if you think a bit.

I once had the biggest pip of a manager, but if there was one thing I could recognize is that he placed family above all else.  If I was ever dealing with a family crisis, illness etc. I could count on his support.  Nothing, and I mean nothing was more important than tending to a family issue.  While this guy could drive you up the walls with his demands, you knew he had your back when family tore you away from work.

I never thought of it then, but I wonder what would have happened if I had specifically thanked him for that side of him.  Would he have been easier to work with in other areas?  Although I will never know that answer, I encourage you to find something really worth recognizing about your manager and either telling them, or give them a certificate noting it.  Award it in private, and see how they respond.

As most managers will say that recognizing and rewarding can be the best motivators of employee performance, I’m betting that it might just work the opposite direction in improving management performance too.

Stop Wasting Time

Do you get paid to attend meetings?  How about talking on the phone, sending and receiving emails?  What happens to the amount of your paycheck each week if nothing gets done?  I mean you were a busy employee, but you didn’t accomplish anything on your project list.  If you are like most full-time employees, you got your paycheck anyhow.

Eight years ago when I formed my own company and decided I could do more good for more companies as an independent consultant I gave up a salary.  I no longer get paid to attend meetings, conference calls and communicate over the phone or email.  This is all administrative work that is part of the job.  Much like a commission sales person, I am only paid when I accomplish work.

There are weeks I make nothing, yet I put in 40+ hours.  There are weeks I make more than my old salary used to be in a week.  Yet it is also clear that if I choose to waste time, I will not get paid.  And although I have always been a productive person, I doubt I gave that much thought to getting paid and accomplishing nothing in return when I was on salary.

But that all changed when I became a consultant.  I am very in tune with the absence of income and how it connects to wasting time.  I watch with horror the folks that can avoid making decisions that are costing their companies thousands of dollars over the course of days, weeks, months without missing a single paycheck.  Being busy is not the same as being productive, is something I learned years ago training time management. Our activities either advance our agendas or hold them back.

Ask yourself if you have decisions to make, and how even a single day delay will affect others.  Now pause, and ask yourself why you are postponing decisions for months and if they are costing your company to lose out because of you.  Each time you cash a paycheck, ask yourself what you accomplished that pay period to earn this money.  If you only come up with attending meetings, talking on the phone and emailing people, then maybe you should give the check back because you didn’t really earn it.

Outcomes of a Lying Leader

While the news media is fond of pointing out any public servant that lies about circumstances, they miss the real news story that happens in companies all over the country.  Leaders lie frequently to save their careers and most believe it works.

Yet as one of those honest folks that has spent my career telling the truth, it is a double edge sword.  While honesty has built strong relationships with co-workers, it has also left me in the position of being the fall guy at times.  Because I don’t play the political game well, and prefer to focus on accomplishing results, I’ve been that person standing alone when all the liars leave the room.

Yet Lying Leaders I believe land up paying for their lies in the end.  Some sooner than later, but all land up paying the piper, which is why I will stick to telling the truth and taking a few licks along the way.

What does a Lying Leader lose?  Ultimately they lose trust.  And when people stop believing you, and what you have to say, than you can’t move mountains let alone your agenda for the day.  You are no longer effective, and just take up space in the room.

If you are a leader that twisted the truth to serve your needs, put a spin on a story to take the spotlight off your part in the process, or outright lied about a fact or two, your career is dying a slow death.  One need only watch the rising star of President Obama 5 years ago, and how polls are now saying that a majority of people no longer trust him.  Moving any kind of agenda will be nearly impossible, and what happens when he really needs us to believe him?

The inconvenient truth of lying is that you inflicted this upon yourself.  No one made you lie, it was a choice.  So if a leader loses position because they lied, they did it to themselves.  If we allow leaders in our organizations to profit from lying, then we earned the outcome too.