Finding the next great leader of your company is one challenge that every major business leader faces. The search involves too many variables that busy leaders often struggle to find time to consider. The result is often a dysfunctional process that can lead to giving the wrong candidate the job.
Fred Crosetto, founder and chief energizing officer for AMMEX Corp and AMMEX iSupport, successfully removed himself from daily operations by developing smart, effective leaders in his company. Crosetto's strategies have allowed him to successfully groom his replacement CEO and complete the transition in less than two years.
Crosetto, a member of Young Presidents' Organization (YPO), filled me in on the details of his company's succession during a recent episode of my podcast, YPO 10 Minute Tips From the Top. Follow his approach and you'll be able to either move up or move on when the time is right.
1. Recruit a team of A-players.
A-players are hard to find and hard to keep, but Crosetto learned that they are the only path to successful succession. "It took me a little bit longer than most people to figure this out, but it's better to get really great people to work and come in and take things on," noted Crosetto. Start by looking for passion and execution. If you only surround yourself with passionate people driven to be better, then you'll have a number of potential options to develop into the next strong leader.
2. Develop future leaders from the inside.
"Bringing people from the outside clashed with our culture and DNA more than it absorbed it," stated Crosetto. Instead, his team decided that growing leadership from within was the way to go. After several failed hires of more experienced executives, Crosetto decided to turn to the young leadership internally to drive the future of the company. "We began growing them through the group and then putting them in places to take on the leadership roles."
3. Let young leaders fail safely.
Giving young leaders more responsibility does not ensure successful advancement. Simply thrusting them into the position is not going to turn on all the leadership switches. They will fail and they need to fail because that is when they learn. You must create an environment however where they can fail and not create disastrous results. Crosetto advises to help them feel safe about failure, which will then drive the development of required leadership skills. Crosetto suggests that executives create a specific leadership track for young team members, have them work with a coach, put them in different roles, and enroll them in external leadership programs so they have a regimented path to success.
4. Introduce leaders to great thinkers.
The best leaders grow and learn from the best leaders. Crosetto invests liberally for executive education from leadership programs such as Gazelles where they can access incredible thought leadership from people like Jim Collins, Verne Harnish and Patrick Lencioni. The outside learning is not just encouraged but required so the candidates can grow to be the best.