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Integrating leadership development and succession planning best practices

Kevin S. Groves (College of Business and Economics, California State University, Los Angeles, California, USA)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 27 March 2007




Organizations often fail to utilize managerial personnel effectively for leadership development and succession planning systems, and many execute these critical practices through separate human resource functions that shift the responsibility for leadership development away from line managers. The purpose of this article is to present a best practices model for optimal development of the leadership pipeline and a series of practical recommendations for organizations.


A group of 30 CEOs and human resource executives across 15 best practice organizations were asked via semi‐structured interviews to describe the content and delivery of their respective organizations' leadership development and succession planning practices.


Analysis of interview data indicated that best practice organizations effectively integrate leadership development and succession planning systems by fully utilizing managerial personnel in developing the organization's mentor network, identifying and codifying high potential employees, developing high potentials via project‐based learning experiences and manager‐facilitated workshops, establishing a flexible and fluid succession planning process, creating organization‐wide forums for exposing high potential employees to multiple stakeholders, and establishing a supportive organizational culture.

Research limitations/implications

The interview data are drawn from a relatively small number of executives and from a single industry, which may limit the overall utility of the findings.


This study offers needed empirical support for the value of integrating leadership development and succession planning practices through utilization of managerial personnel. Management development practitioners will benefit from assessing their respective organizations' current practices vis‐à‐vis those discussed here, while scholars may utilize the best practices model for generating further research on the role of managerial personnel in talent management systems.



Groves, K.S. (2007), "Integrating leadership development and succession planning best practices", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 26 No. 3, pp. 239-260.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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