“Succession Planning” for many companies consists of annually reviewing an org chart marked up with arrows and highlighter.  Identifying potential future leaders is an important step one, but the game-changer is really the

The Hawaii Leadership Forum recently brought together highly-regarded executive coach Jim Moore with a cohort of Hawaii-based leadership developers for an insightful hour focused on the “Art & Science of Leadership Development.”

Attendees recognized our community’s good fortune to have someone with Jim’s standout credentials enjoying Oahu as a winter home and generously sharing his time and vast experiences:

  • as a founding member of the Marshall Goldsmith Group, with the unique distinction of being Marshall’s daily check-in peer coaching partner;
  • as the former Chief Learning Officer at Sun Microsystems, where he headed its Corporate University;
  • as a Top-50 executive coach and globally sought-after business consultant.

Despite Jim’s engineering background, he places art ahead of science when it comes to developing leaders.  And when a business contemplates its future leaders, he urges changing the mindset from “succession planning” to one of strategic “succession development” … more about growing people, less about growing process.

In Jim’s experience, leaders developed and promoted internally fare better than external hires.  He shared five key mechanisms on the leadership development path:

  • Selection (the toughest part);
  • Special Assignments (that don’t need to be full-time);
  • Education (on web-based learning, Jim advocates being “fast-followers” if warranted by success rates);
  • Coaching; and
  • Feedback (or better yet, Feedforward).

The Feedforward concept is detailed in Marshall Goldsmith’s book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.  Feedforward is a fresh approach to seeking stakeholder input – capturing a positive view of a future state,  rather than traditional feedback centered on negative past experience.  For example, if I want to be a better public speaker, Feedforward seeks suggestions (“Rehearsing your next speech aloud in front of a friend or a camera will help tremendously,” whereas feedback tends to judge (“Your last speech was painful to watch”).  Feedforward is easier to give and receive, focuses on being better in the future rather than past deficiencies, and is more efficient in achieving positive change.  Try it the next time you’re asked or asking for stakeholder input.

Mahalo to Jim Moore and the Hawaii Leadership Forum for providing engaging, practical guidance on readying tomorrow’s leaders.