Build Your Bench Strength

Ray Blunt made the statement in 2000 that growing the next generation of leaders may be the “single most critical responsibility of senior…leaders today.” (p.4) Wright (2012) referred to the depth in numbers of leaders within an organization as “bench strength”, pulling a term from the sports world. Building “bench strength” requires a level of intentionality in purpose as well as devotion to a process. Wright also lined out a three-step process for developing bench strength that contains four steps: defining talent, assessing current bench strength, creating succession plans, and beginning development of successors.

Gray (2014) put together a similar process of five steps that coincide with Wright’s. Gray begins the process with identifying key roles within the organization followed by list desired competencies and personalities for each role. Gray then calls for an assessment of current staff members; followed by identification of the pool of potential talent. Gray’s process ends with actively developing the key people identified.

A vital area of consideration neither Wright nor Gray seem to consider is the continuity of key people with the desired culture of the organization. With any change of executive level leadership there is the high possibility of the culture being shifted, if not completely changed. “Leadership is an important component in building and maintaining organizational culture,” (Valentine, 2011, p. 125) and it is vital developed leadership understands and values the culture they could potentially lead. A degree of change is inevitable when a leadership change occurs, however when a culture is successful, the “continuity of that culture is a desirable goal.” (Valentine, 2011, p. 125)

An intentional and long term plan is necessary for succession planning and developing bench that will one day be called upon to be starters.

References

Blunt, R. (2000). Leaders growing leaders: Preparing the next generation of public service executives. PricewaterhouseCoopers Endowment for the Business of Government.

Gray, D. (2014). Succession Planning 101. Professional Safety, 59(3), 35–35.

Valentine, D. (2011). Maintaining Organization Culture Through Leadership Succession Planning. Culture & Religion Review Journal, 2011(2), 125–129.

Wright, C. (2012). When Leaders Retire: Ready the Bench Through Succession Planning. Electric Light & Power, 90(4), 9–9.


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