When it comes to succession, most organisations start at the top. And while that’s an approach that works in the short-term, succession management should go further, it should be about the bigger picture – the complete talent pipeline.

You’d think that most organisations have a steady pipeline of leadership talent. Yet according to our recent global succession management planning survey, only 1/3 of senior executives were satisfied with their succession management outcomes. The results of the survey raised some significant concerns over the risks businesses are taking, while at the same time presenting real opportunities for learning and change.

Other key findings of the survey:

  • Dissatisfaction with the status quo – Only 1/3 of those surveyed reported they are satisfied with the outcomes of their succession program.
  • Too much talent ‘bought’, not ‘built’ – Most agreed that a 2:1 ratio of ‘build’ vs. ‘buy’ is preferred, but the majority still end up going outside more often than they would like to obtain the talent they need.
  • Succession planning does not go deep enough – Organisations need to look at the complete leadership pipeline to create a sustainable, consistent flow of leaders.
Succession matters: Korn Ferry research shows that too much talent is 'bought', not 'built' Click To Tweet

So, what can your organisation do to address these challenges?

Start by looking at the leadership talent you need and contrast that with the talent you have now.  You need to look at the complete leadership pipeline, all the way from the senior executive level deep into the organisation.

A succession management plan will look different for lower levels of leadership, but you will find incredibly valuable talent there that you can groom and invest in to secure perpetual successors.

Surprisingly, there is considerable evidence in the survey findings that companies are not reaching far enough down or starting soon enough in identifying potential candidates to create a supply of ready leaders. Only 13% of companies surveyed include skilled professionals, often referred to as high-professional leaders, in their succession management programs.

High-professional leaders are those with skills and expertise that are essential to the success of the business. While they may traditionally have been overlooked for leadership advancement, they have in recent years become “mission critical.”

These high professionals need to see a viable career path in your organisation, because they bring very specialized expertise to the table that you cannot do without.

Our Succession Matters reports add an extra dimension in the comprehensive topic of succession. They cover real world stories, challenges and successes as told to us by some of our clients, across a range of different sectors.

I invite you to download the first report today. Simply submit your details in the form to the right and the next parts will be sent to your inbox in the subsequent weeks.

Succession Matters report series:

  • Part one: Effective succession management planning
  • Part two: Accurate identification of leadership potential
  • Part three: Impactful leadership development and accelerated readiness
  • Part four: Strengthen your leadership pipeline to shape future business strategy


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About Contributor

Tonny Loh is a Senior Client Partner for Korn Ferry Advisory, Singapore. He specialises in corporate planning and strategy, business analytics, and public sector policy advisory in Singapore and Malaysia. Tonny has worked on several large-scale projects in strategic workforce planning. He has designed and set up new and revamped global organisations, including the design of initiatives around organisational design, reporting lines and processes, change management, and key performance indicators.

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