It’s time to put the HRH* into succession planning

*That’s Horizontally Ready Hybrids

With Princess Charlotte joining the Windsor clan this weekend, the Lighthouse team take time to evaluate the importance of succession planning for both today’s leaders and the companies they work for.

This weekend the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, along with the rest of the country, witnessed the safe arrival of Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana into the world.

With The Succession to the Crown Act (2013), the outdated system of male primogeniture was abolished meaning that Princess Charlotte will remain fourth in line to the throne irrespective of any further male siblings born to William and Kate.

The Monarchy has definitely moved into the 21st century with its own version of succession planning, but what about our own industry?

Every year at The Lighthouse Company, we survey the most influential leaders within the UK’s media, advertising and marketing industry through our New World Talent Survey. One of the thorniest issues of recent years has been around succession management. In 2015, nearly half of our 500+ respondents described their company’s succession planning as below average. In stark contrast, less than one in five had a positive view of their employer’s capabilities at this critical piece of business planning.

Perhaps much of this is to do with leaders’ perceptions of when they see themselves leaving the industry. A whopping 70% believe they themselves will still be working in the media and advertising fraternity between the ages of 50 and 60 – with another 13% believing they’ll be aged 60+. This contrasts starkly with when they believe others will depart the industry; almost three-quarters believe that people tend to leave the industry before they turn 50.

Maybe today’s leaders see less of a need for succession planning as they see themselves staying in charge? This idea is even further emphasised as nearly half have taken no action to plan for their own future post this industry.

Irrespective of whether the latest Windsor offspring ever sits on the throne or not, we can be certain that her duties will see her taking the Royal family into new and often unchartered territory, something that the Queen herself has no doubt experienced during her 63 year reign.

The ability to lead across multiple disciplines is one of the biggest challenges, and opportunities, facing today’s top flight.

In our survey, 74% of respondents believe that they are ready for what we term ‘Horizontal Hybrid’ leadership, with almost two-thirds really excited by the prospect of it.  Many employers have embraced that notion too, with four out of five companies preparing their leaders through growth programmes that range from formal training and mentoring, through to internal secondments and collaborative positions.

With the arrival of Princess Charlotte into the Royal fold, our current monarch can be assured that there is a healthy list of successors to follow in her footsteps. While we may not all be lucky enough to be born into a natural line of succession, the responsibility lies with both us as leaders and our employers to ensure that we’re ready for whatever reign we ascend into in the future.