A client was looking to appoint someone to scale their fastest growing business area and asked me “when is someone ‘ready enough’ to promote into a new Leadership role?”

It got me thinking about what I’d seen and heard in my work with organisations around the world and how ready any of us were when we landed our current roles?

The answer for many of us, if we are honest, was sort of ……ish. We were able to shine in some areas and in others it required a healthy dose of learning on the job. Indeed, I would argue that if you are 100% ready then the role isn’t challenging or stretchy enough in the firstplace.

So, the question of when is ‘ready enough’ becomes key, especially given that according to Deloitte’s most recent ‘Human Capital trends survey’ less than 10% of respondents think that their companies’ current leadership programmes are effective in preparing leaders for the digital economy.

If your Leadership Pipeline is a priority for you, I offer three insights that might give you pause for thought and change the way you are thinking.


Prioritise motivation over skill.

In a world of disruptive business models, the work that we do, where works gets done and the way that we do that work are all changing rapidly.The half-life of skills & experience has never been shorter and if we are waiting for a fullyqualified candidate, we may be waiting a long time. What increasingly makes the difference is the attitude and ability to learn along the way as we each add stamps to our ‘experience passports’.


Put support scaffolding in place.

Whether it’s a regular call to check in, a buddy, a training program, a process, or a combination of these, in a world that’s moving ever more quickly, individuals, teams and organisations that fail quickly win out.


Get clear, really clear…
about what’s expected and what’s realistic. As the line manager, have the conversation early about what you specifically expect from the individual in role,both at the end of the year but also along the way.

My client, after much consideration, took the decision to promote from leftfield into role. While the individual in question lacked technical and geographic experience, and while undoubtedly the role was larger than anything they’d done previously, what they did bring was the right motivation, the ability to navigate uncertainty, to drive rapid change and engage positively with stakeholders. In this case the early signs are that the appointment is working out and the business continues to grow at pace.

I’m left wondering if promoting individuals who are ‘just ready enough’, something that may have once seen as a risky decision and tended to be avoided, is increasingly the way to finally get ahead of the Leadership Pipeline?


Mat Lowery


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