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It’s resignation time. The impact of no succession plan and the role of communications in fixing that

No succession plan. No plan. It really is a disaster for those left behind when leaders choose to leave a talent vacuum when they choose to go.

So, resigning seems to be the in vogue thing to do – if you are British that is. Apologies to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but this comes off the back of Messrs Cameron and Hodgson throwing in the towel after towering defeats.

Now, I’m not here to defend the talents of Cameron and Hodgson. I’m not about to defend or attack their respective approaches in preparing the nation for a significant battle. However, what I am interested in is the respective teams they leave behind and the plans in place post-disaster. And what do they leave? Jeremy Hunt and Gareth Southgate. There you go, I didn’t even have to write a gag to make you laugh.

So, my beef is this. Should leaders resign unless they have put the pre-requisite talent in place behind them? My answer is, no. They have a duty, first and foremost, to make sure their organisations are well protected, and that means making sure the talent is in place to lead in their absence.

By my reckoning, 75% of a leader’s job should be spent on nurturing talent, putting future leaders in the shop window and getting out of the way. The more a leader can promote their people over and above themselves, the more ready the organisation is to fill any leadership vacuum with new talent when the occasion arises. HBR conducted research in 2010 that demonstrated that more than 70% of today’s top performers lack critical attributes essential to their success in future roles. I doubt that stat has changed much.

As Randall Beck at Gallup says, “Often, the only time companies look at succession planning is during times of crisis, when they have to name somebody to fill a role quickly.”

And what role does communication play in preparing the ground? Massive. Organisations woefully under-prepare their future talent. Not because they don’t have fast-track programmes for high performers, but more because these programmes are all cloak and dagger stuff. It’s secret clubs behind closed doors, when in actual fact, we as communicators should be creating transparent places where anyone that wants to learn what it takes to be a CEO can get involved.

So, Dave? Roy? What’s up? Why are you leaving us with nothing? Who is going to lead us to glory on the pitch and in the political new world? At the moment, I’m not sure whether it should be Gareth for PM and Jeremy for England manager.

And I’m not even going to talk about Corbyn or Trump. Thank goodness for Eddie Jones.

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