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Driving Greater Results Through A Scalable Leadership System

Salima Hemani, PCC, SHRM-SCP

President, SZH Consulting LLC

Many successful organizations do a great job of protecting, investing in and nurturing their top leadership. Fewer among those have the strategies and systems in place to identify and develop the next generation of leaders through succession planning programs. However, for companies to compete, survive and thrive in this increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) environment, the important “work” of leadership has to be shared beyond the top few executives. This is especially true for founder-led companies. An enduring company requires a system of leadership that is beyond its founders and top-level executives. The steps for developing a scalable leadership system include:

A. Clear Articulation and Documentation of the Role, Responsibilities and Priorities of the Executive Leadership Team. Those who are the next level down and beyond need to clearly understand the critical work of the top executives, what business challenges and opportunities they are grappling with and are focused on, and which are critical for the company’s success.

B. Thoughtful Delegation and Distribution of Decision-Making throughout the organization, starting with the executive team and then moving to the levels below. Identifying and clearly enforcing who is empowered to make what types of decisions, which require approvals at what level. Having the top executives reflect on the four simple questions below could help initiate the process of delegating decision making:

1. What types of decisions am I making today that I should not be making?

2. Who should be making those decisions?

3. Are they empowered to make those decisions? What can I do to empower them?

4. How do I hold them accountable to making those decisions?

Every leader cannot do all the jobs and there is a great gift in recognizing your strengths and weaknesses. Establishing clear boundaries and expectations for every leader, starting with the CEO, and ensuring these are upheld.

C. Opening-up the Process of Creative Thinking. One of the themes that we often observe in our client organizations is the sense that those in supervisory and mid-level leadership positions don’t feel empowered to be creative and innovative. That they bring up ideas to their executives only to see them not heard or go anywhere. We know from research that successful leaders are idea machines who can envision, inspire, make connections, and secure funding to create a sustainable business. To scale leadership, it is critical that leaders, managers, and supervisors across all levels of the organization be provided autonomy and be held accountable to practicing creative leadership.

D. Require that each Organizational Leader (i.e. anyone in a supervisory, management or leadership role) is able to Clearly Articulate and Explain the Mission, Vision, Priorities and Values of the company to both those who are part of the company and to their external stakeholders. In addition, they should be able to connect those back to their specific functional areas and the day-to-day work and behaviors that their staff engages in.

E. Ensure that you have the Right Leaders in the Right Seats, based on the needs and demands of the role. It is also critical to hold leaders across all levels accountable to effectively demonstrating a core set of leadership competencies and values that are aligned with the company’s needs and goals. Each organizational leader should be well-skilled in the standard set of leadership capabilities, such as strategic thinking, influencing, building talent etc., to do the “leadership work” that the company needs.

F. Develop and Implement a Robust Succession Planning System, to identify, grow and nurture the next generation of top executives and company leaders. Without a robust succession planning process, companies are leaving their future to chance. In an era of quiet quitting, war on talent and the great resignation, not having in place a well-defined strategy and system to engage and groom top talent into the leaders of the future can easily lead to brain-drain and debilitating leadership gaps, at the top and at various levels of the organizational pyramid.

With a scalable leadership system in place, companies would be in a far more competitive position to respond to the changing and challenging times with agility, optimize their leadership talent and multiply their ability to achieve to the results that they seek.

To learn how we can help your organization develop and implement a scalable leadership system, contact me at

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