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1. I’m really loving their stuff, lately.This morning I read a piece from Nels Olson and Megan Shattuck from KFI 1 about succession planning. The piece is mainly focused on how organizations should identify future leaders for executive level roles, but I found many of the points here to be applicable to a larger employee population segment than that discussed. Specifically:

Consider tapping the organization for input on future internal successors. The best may be highly capable and respected by their colleagues, but “hidden” from leadership. And it’s important to engage the organization in identifying promising leaders for another reason. When you make a leadership change, of course you want the market to respond positively, but you want company insiders to be enthusiastic, too. That can be a powerful motivator throughout the organization.

…You can read the full piece here, but the above section really resonated with me because of a common trend I’ve seen in my career (and that has been re-affirmed in my conversations on succession with others): The people that senior execs view as the future of the organization are not always the same people viewed as its future leaders by those outside of the c-suite. When the disconnect here is large enough, a promotion/series of promotions can have an actively disengaging effect on the workforce.

To be sure, succession is not a popularity contest; the most qualified talent in the pipeline should move to the next level regardless of how others will perceive the moves. Conversely, as today’s piece points out, sometimes exceptional talent that would otherwise have been missed can be found by tapping the broader employee population for insight. This is particularly true at lower levels of the organization, where high-performing individual contributors may not be known to senior leaders due to their role/department/manager/etc.

What do you think? Is this a viable idea? Is your organization doing it? If so, how? McKinsey wrote a piece a while back on how organizations can use snowball sampling to leverage the power of influencers when implementing large scale changes. You can read my thoughts on that idea here, but perhaps a similar process might be applicable for this purpose…

…Or maybe I have this wrong? This is just a thought stream, so as always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.