We recently read a USA Today article about some leadership-turnover opportunities facing the NFL Players Association, and it got us thinking about a concern facing many of today’s organizations: succession planning. 

Given the huge number of Baby Boomers now entering or nearing retirement, this is clearly something any CEO, senior leader, and even department head must have on their mind. How can you capture and retain not only the technical knowledge and business acumen of these folks, but the leadership values and skills honed over many years as well?

Clearly, we face these same challenges, but there is a tremendous level of confidence that The Walt Disney Company will continue to thrive well into the future. Why? Here is what we have learned over the years: While the typical organization believes that few people are leaders, the values-driven organization believes that most people are leaders.

Contributors to the article above note that there is a need for younger players to “step up,” as well as a need to, “keep fostering the next generation of players coming in.” 

The same scenario exists in every organization today. How will you ensure your “younger players” are ready to step up and lead effectively when called upon? 

Traits of next-generation leaders

Here is a checklist of some things we think about and look for when identifying potential leadership talent. This person:

  • Works well on a team and with other team members; brings out the best in others
  • Is inclusive of others’ ideas and personalities
  • Responds well to feedback
  • Is able to learn from and listen to others
  • Is willing to teach others
  • Is solution-oriented and creates opportunities out of challenges
  • Able to solve customer issues and complaints (within their role), proactively seeking out situations where the problem may not be immediately evident
  • Seeks additional responsibilities while excelling at existing assignments
  • Is capable of working effectively in a multi-tasked environment
  • Finds themselves leading by example even when not assigned the title or direct responsibility; is someone others choose to follow

How would you modify or add to this list to make it your own? 

Remember, the values-driven organization intentionally looks for people displaying leadership behaviors and creates a development process that immerses the next generation of leaders in a culture that reinforces values and vision throughout their entire career.

To learn more about how it works at The Walt Disney Company, check out this video and listen to a group of front-line Cast Members describe their leaders and discuss their futures within our organization.

Published on: Feb 25, 2014