Do You Have a Focus on Your Future?

Planning and preparation are key activities for a leader to focus on, especially at the beginning of a new role.  Understanding the work that your team does, building relationships and delivering against your priorities are a few examples to concentrate on.  However, there is one other planning activity that should happen at this time as well.  You need to start figuring out how to work yourself out of a job.  It seems illogical to do this so early in the process, but you don’t want to wait until you are ready to take on a new assignment.  It will be too late by then and you will be stuck. Before there is any agreement to move you, your management will want to have confidence in your successor and know that things will continue to work consistently without you.

Having that goal in mind will help you as you set up your organization.  Start figuring out who your possible successors could be and ensure you are giving them opportunities to lead.  You need to know if they can stand on their own without you.  Send them to meetings in your place, give them opportunities to present in front of senior management, let them make decisions, take risks and make mistakes to develop them.  Give them the preparation that they need to be successful, but they have to be the ones who do it.  Do a pilot test by putting them in charge when you are out of the office.  Set up your out of office message, so that they are the main contacts to be called for questions.  This will push them out of their comfort zone and will force them to figure things out without you.  It will also build their confidence and help create the perception of them as a successor for you.

If you don’t have a succession plan in place for your current role, then you need to start planning one. This holds true whether you are a leader of a team, organization or you have your own business. You will also have to think about backfills for any team member who may be your successor.  These type of moves create a domino effect in the organization that needs to be thought through.  Putting this in place demonstrates that you are a strategic leader who is good at planning, setting up strong processes and developing your team.   This is a reputation that will serve you well throughout your career.

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