Have you identified your future leaders and started grooming them? Succession planning is an important part of effective talent management. Think of it as a business continuity insurance to manage risk and be future-ready.

The idea is simple: fill vacancies in the organization with a pool of homegrown qualified candidates. However, in many organizations, the “leaky pipeline” of women in middle management becomes a deterrent. Organizations run into the disappointing and totally avoidable loss of trained resources who “could have” rose to leadership positions. This also explains why women still make up less than  5 percent of CEOs around the globe, and they remain seriously underrepresented in other top management positions.

So, how do we grow women in leadership? The answer lies in including mid-level women in succession planning. Let’s look at what happens when women in mid-management are involved in succession planning.

Visibility of career advancement

At the outset, succession planning around women in middle management drives away an uncertain future for them and brings a sense of clarity about where they are headed. They automatically become more involved, more ready to take tough personal calls and go the extra mile for the business. Why? Because in the company’s future, they see their own future, and a clear growth path with the possibility of donning leadership roles.

Breaking gender stereotypes, changing cultures

Including more and more women in succession planning will change the overall culture of the organization. It will entirely impact the way an organization sees women in decision-making roles. It will help reduce preconceptions around mid-level women like how much work they can take on, how available are they at various hours, or how overwhelming their family responsibilities must be.

When the existing leadership involves mid-level women in future-proofing the business, the entire workforce will be ready to change their assumptions and unconscious biases.

Reducing drop-offs

Once mid-level women see that some of their women colleagues engaged in succession planning are appointed to leadership roles, it will act as a significant propellant. They will begin to trust the processes and intent of the organization, and will weave it into their personal and professional goals. In some cases, it will break the vicious cycle of women dropping off and increase the talent pool of women at the senior management levels. So essentially, when there are more role models, there are more success stories and greater possibility of women “making it big.”

Driving a sense of being valued

Engaging mid-level women in succession planning will not only keep them engaged, but also make them feel valued. It satisfies the most basic and critical human need for recognition. Irrespective of how many women do end up filling leadership roles, the fact that they were seen as potential successors and nurtured is in itself a credible milestone. That will also lead to better work productivity, more ideas, and strategic thinking as women engaged in succession planning programs will begin to perceive themselves as leaders.

So, if you haven’t already identified possible successors in your organization, then now is the time to do so. Invest now in your future women leaders by putting them on a well-planned succession program. Let your growth ride on them.

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