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Scenario Planning for Leadership Hiring: 3 Things to Keep in Mind


Scenario planning is a must-use tool for organizations to drive immediate actions and longer-term plans. Today, the HR leader’s role in any organisation is crucial to ensure business success through the management of its human capital. Most projects involve senior management members as their primary participants, hence the responsibility of choosing the right executive talent rests upon the shoulders of the Talent Acquisition team.

Over the last six months, we have witnessed many C Suite level changes, and organizations that had a plan in place have moved forward swiftly while the others continue to tread with caution.

When it comes to leadership hiring, here are 3 things to keep in mind as you plan for varied scenarios-

  • Its best to identify people in place (internally and externally)

       After narrowing down on the absolutely critical roles at a leadership level, organisations must create backup for each of those roles.

Backups can be of two forms- interim and permanent. With the pandemic, many unforeseen business related difficulties came into play. And when it comes to critical roles, organisations may or may not have the time and bandwidth to do a thorough headhunting job. However, this cannot mean that one settles for less. In fact, this means that the need to find a leader who is culturally and strategically aligned to the company becomes even more critical.

If a leadership crisis arises at an absolutely unplanned juncture, organisations look for someone who already has the knowledge about running existing operations. An interim candidate in such cases could be a COO or a CFO or a board member who has full appreciation of ongoing operations.  In case of specialist functions, like finance or legal, these could be people outside the company. Here more than strategic alignment, one needs functional expertise.

  • Always Have a Pulse of the C-Suite

 It is imperative to have a pulse of the C-Suite level and understand the associated flight risk. There can be several triggers for a C-Suite exit, especially in the current environment where the executive talent pool is limited and the market demand is high.

The pandemic has shown us that the most unanticipated hindrances can arise at any point in time. Legal issues, data breaches, untimely deaths, mergers and takeovers can involve a leadership change.

It may be a good idea to engage search firms to map the market and identify prospective talent. This helps in understanding where an organisation stands in the talent race, and what can be done to stay competitive. In mature organisations, this can be done by taking the leader at hand into confidence to create his/ her successor. This enables one to scour the market and keep the identified next in line person ready.  It may serve organisations well to create a succession planning committee of members of the board, that drives CXO level hiring and potential hires.

3) The Importance of Leadership Development Programs

Many organizations spend heavily when it comes to leadership development programs. These are designed to mould and train prospective leaders in tandem with the vision and mission of the organization.

In an unplanned scenario, an informal and ad-hoc methodology for the next leader is the only option available to leaders. By creating a leadership development program, organisations can put a formal process in place where the key elements are homogeneous throughout the organization.

In order to stay competitive, organizations must be fully aware of their leadership talent and how to best develop it across executive levels. Succession planning and leadership development are key processes in assessing and developing an organization’s leadership talent.

(The author Gaurav Chattur is Managing Director, APAC at Catenon and the views expressed in this article are his own)

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