Careers Insight: Building a leadership pipeline


A business is only as good as its leadership team, so have plans in place for succession management and talent spotting

According to a recent survey by Deloitte, 86 per cent of business and human resources leaders do not believe they have an adequate leadership pipeline.

As stable as any business may seem, we can never assume that our staff profile will remain the same for any period, be it in the long or short term.

In a previous column, I wrote about staff retention and how it will be a crucial issue for all firms during this time of recovery and growth. Closely linked to this is the issue of sustainability and, in particular, the securing of a healthy and solid leadership.

Indeed, I believe that any business is only as good as its leadership team. They are the generals who shape the culture and ethos, and who create and drive the vision.

So what happens if a valued leader or leadership team ups sticks and moves on? How much of an effect can this have? In fact, even one departure could have a fairly dramatic impact.

So have a think about your leadership team. What is their age profile? Could this be an issue for your business? Perhaps they are edging closer to retirement age without any plans for succession being in place. This is something that absolutely must be thought out and planned for.

Which brings me to my next point. What plans do you have in place to spot and recruit future leadership potential for the business? It is vital to get a management strategy in place if you have not done so already.

Talent management

I recently participated in an Investors in People event and had the privilege of visiting a counterpart ‘gold’ organisation: a bottle-making factory located in Harlow, Essex. Although it was fundamentally different from us in financial services in terms of purpose and product, I came away feeling inspired by many aspects of the company – in particular, its approach to talent management and sustainability.

The firm runs a bespoke talent management programme called Tmap, which identifies high- and outperforming staff members – known as “HiPOs”.

It does this by analysing team members against a set of key performance indicators and positioning everyone in the organisation in a simple Venn diagram to see if they are eligible to join the programme.

The firm introduced the programme as a succession management strategy, designing and adopting this approach because it was concerned that its leadership team – although strong, experienced, effective and long-serving – was ageing and had clear exit plans in place.

As such, the firm has chosen to invest great time and effort in identifying, nurturing and training potential leaders. This is a very innovative and effective model.

Enthused and impressed by my visit, I have since spent time designing a ‘future leaders’ programme for us at Brightstar, which is due to launch in the spring. The programme has already generated much interest and I am confident that it will serve its purpose as a motivation, retention and succession management tool.

I shall keep you updated.