One of the key exercises that I undertook just prior to my retirement was spending much more time with some of our younger executives. I had announced my retirement and as my successor (at the time) was reviewing his anticipated team and structure, it became evident that while there were many very sharp, young executives that had been recruited and/or advanced in the organization; and they were very good at carrying out the duties as promoted to, they had very little senior executive seasoning.
What do I mean by senior executive seasoning? Well, it is one thing to oversee a set of branches or a set of managers and carry out the orders of your EVP or CEO, but how do you get the concept of where the EVP or CEO creates those marching orders. You may understand the strategic plan and its objectives and you may even understand how all the parts fit into implementing the strategies and how they all fall together to create the bigger plan but how do you know when the plan is working and when it is not? And if a certain part of the plan is failing, what are the levers that need adjusting to ensure the whole plan is not compromised.
The broadening of their look at their own production and how it fits into the strategic focus of the organization was amazing. They all told me how much they appreciated the time and relevant learning opportunity and I was happy to assist. However, most CEO?s do not have the time or luxury to take their next level prospects through this process on a regular basis. How will they learn prior to being asked to step up? Most of it is on the job, exploring, questioning, and looking at things from many different directions. They will learn it ? over time. Or you can push that learning to a new level with external time and focus.