Succession planning and the future of leadership: A global survey

At TTS, we help our clients navigate the complexities of making better talent decisions in a world that is increasingly shaped by disruptive technologies, distributed talent networks, and the long-term consequences of the worldwide pandemic.

In other articles, we have shown how future skills will form a major and decisive part of any talent strategy, especially one that includes the use of objective assessments.

In this article, we report on an ongoing project of one of TTS’s best-of-breed product partners, Talogy, to understand the impact of future trends on organizations’ succession planning and leadership pipeline.

What do organizations want in future leaders?

Based on Talogy’s recent survey of more than 1800 HR leaders, senior managers, and executives across more than 50 countries, the need for an updated leadership style and future-ready competencies has again been underlined.

The international data reveals that standout qualities of effective leaders included:

  • Authenticity
  • Humility
  • The ability to create psychological safety
  • Encouraging collaboration

In addition to these indicators of high-performing leadership, behaviors that were identified in the survey that were associated with a more future-ready leadership toolset were:

  • Concern for employee safety and well-being
  • Flexibility to people’s circumstances
  • Empathy and compassion
  • Open and frequent communicating
  • Personal connection with others

Overall, the survey results point to three overarching themes that organizations and leaders alike report that must be done differently by the leaders of the future:

  1. Embracing, adapting, and driving change
  2. Learn and innovate
  3. Be open and accepting of ideas

The above behaviors and themes are not surprising given the increased need for leaders to work with hybrid and remote teams as well as the rapidly changing technological landscape of businesses in the future.

Indeed, leading hybrid and remote teams has altered the demands on leaders. For many leaders, this will require a rethink about what effective communication and collaboration look like.

For instance, hybrid and remote working require leaders to show greater trust in employees and empower them to work autonomously to deliver objectives. Alongside this, it also creates challenges for leaders in terms of maintaining a connection with individual employees, as well as promoting feelings of social belonging and inclusion within teams.

Conversely, when looking at behaviors that are not wanted by either employees or leaders, the survey identified five primary sets of behaviors:

  • Being aggressive, demeaning, or intimidating
  • Micromanaging or being over-controlling
  • Playing internal politics and focusing on self-interest
  • Setting unrealistic goals or expectations
  • Being unclear about goals and priorities

The impact of effective succession planning for leaders

Most organizations have realized the importance of hiring, developing, engaging, and retaining their leadership talent. In addressing these goals, it is obviously important to use objective and robust assessments that have a good track record and come with a global pedigree.

But it is not always clear why succession planning and the assessments that allow it to succeed are such critical investments.

Historical data and recent research, however, reveal compelling answers to this question:

  • Leaders who score above average on leadership assessments are 50% more likely to be successful in their role.
  • Leader turnover is 5 times higher for those who score below average on talent assessments. Although predicting turnover is typically not the goal of a leadership assessment or succession planning initiative, it is an important outcome. Talogy’s validation data shows that a much higher percentage of leaders leaving the organization also score low on leadership assessments.
  • Leaders who score above average retain their staff at a rate of 3% higher than their lower-performing peers. Considering the headcount of an even medium-sized enterprize, that can have a significant impact on a great many staff members.
  • Executives with high scores had 46% higher engagement scores for their employees. Similar to the retention figure, companies are seeing that high-performing leaders engage their staff more effectively.
  • Executives who scored above average were twice as likely to be good change agents. Many companies are having to reinvent the way they do business to stay relevant. Hiring leaders who are “change agents” will help organizations accomplish this goal.
  • The average cost to replace a bad executive level hire is 5 times their annual salary. This underlines the critical importance of using the correct selection and succession methods to ensure that such mistakes are kept to a minimum.

The role of objective talent assessments

One of the key pitfalls of successful succession planning and developing a robust leadership pipeline is basing decisions on assumptions and subjective judgment.

All too often, deciding who should succeed an incumbent leader (and by implication who is to be considered high potential) is based on a manager’s subjective input or an individual’s expressed ambitions to be promoted.

This approach of course ignores the compelling evidence in favor of using success profiles, describing the inherent competency requirements of the leadership role, and ultimately measured by objective talent assessments.

By identifying and implementing an assessment process tied to specific competencies and skill levels, an organization can establish standardized, objective measures by which to evaluate any strengths and opportunities for those high-potential employees who are suitable for future promotion.

As we have argued in past articles, the story that assessment data tells is robust and validated by decades worth of scientific evidence. By leveraging the predictive power of assessments, organizations can be assured that they are making succession decisions that will have a measurable impact on the bottom line as well as sustainability for the future.

Final thoughts

Talogy’s recent survey of global organizations shows us that leaders and employees alike are aligned about the biggest leadership challenges as well as the most desired.

In this regard, attracting and retaining talent and inspiring, motivating and engaging others came out on top, respectively.

In addition, processes and perspectives on change management, innovation, openness to ideas, and talent attraction and retention were signaled as areas that leaders will have to work with differently in the future, post-Covid reality of business.

Certainly, a core requirement that unites these different themes is the use of robust, scientifically credible assessments that will help organizations identify and develop the leaders of the future by selecting for essential behaviors and capacities that enable success.

If you are interested to know more about how TTS helps its clients to build a high-performance succession pipeline for leadership, get in touch with us at


Gentry, C. 3 reasons succession planning fails and what you can do about it. Retrieved August, 2022:

Glatzhofer, P.Reasons why a succession planning program should be in your budget. Retrieved August, 2022:

Talogy. Leading in the future world of work: An international research report. Retrieved August, 2022: