Although we don’t like to admit it, one reason why we might block the promotion of a high-performing staff member is that we don’t have a good replacement.
This is a terrible admission because it reflects multiple failures as a leader. Not only are we turning our back on the fundamental role of developing and enriching the lives of our team members, but we have also failed to build the talent pool within our area of responsibility.
The same principle applies when thinking about our own promotion. It is very difficult for our boss to promote us unless we have groomed a highly capable replacement.
So, we may guarantee a long tenure at our current level, regardless of our exceptional performance or perhaps even because of that exceptional performance.
Some leaders hesitate to develop potential successors for fear they may be replaced by one of these people without gaining a promotion themselves.
This is an understandable, yet flawed strategy. Failing to develop people in your team is going to reduce overall performance, increase the likelihood of resignations and lower morale. All of which have potential negative impacts on you as the leader of this team and makes it almost certain you won’t be considered for higher duties.
Finding and developing one or more successors removes this barrier from deliberations about your future.
One more step in the next 24 hours
Consider who on your current team could do your role if the opportunity arose.
If there are no obvious candidates, work out a development plan that creates an environment for building the knowledge, skills and behaviours required.
If necessary, consider candidates in other parts of your organisation who, with development, could step up into your role. Your leadership and talent development division should be able to help with the development plan.
While you are thinking about the development of others, also consider what development you may need in order to be considered for a promotion.
In this way, you will be ready if an opportunity arises and your current portfolio won’t suffer because you have identified and prepared one or more replacements capable of doing your job.
What impact could this action have on your leadership success?
How likely is it you could implement this action successfully?