It may not seem like it right now, but the day will come when you will no longer be able to govern your company (and will need a successor.)
Recognizing this reality is the first step toward identifying and training a successor who shares your enthusiasm for the company. That’s the only way to guarantee a seamless changeover that keeps the company running at total capacity.
Even the best transition candidates, who seem perfect in theory, need real-life knowledge and leadership qualities. Developing such talents should be at the top of your priority list. This training might last a year or more to have time to work closely together at the onset and then to enable this individual to start leading on their own.
Here are some pointers to assist your successor to become a better “leader-in-waiting.”
Ascertain that you have a solid squad on your side.
Leaders are only as good as the people who surround them. And as good as their communication skills. With a strong, results-oriented team in place, your successor may relax, knowing that crucial decisions and operations will continue even while they learn the ropes.
Create a program to broaden the scope of the successor’s knowledge.
It’s never a good idea to “wing it” while grooming a successor. A structured program that covers the whole scope of their upcoming duties is more likely to produce good leadership from the start, especially if the process is properly recorded for future use.
CEOs and company owners should involve themselves with people in your leadership team to build a program timeline that will open your successor to all aspects of the corporation, according to business experts.
The team may observe how the successor blend available knowledge with their own decision-making process using this method. This will assist you in determining the individual’s strengths and shortcomings, allowing for more targeted instruction.
When selecting a successor for a family company, use extreme caution.
In a family-owned corporation, issues around family and an individual’s aptitude to lead may often muddle the succession process. If one (or more) family members are being evaluated for succession, a leader’s neutrality may be jeopardized if they do not have the correct mindset.
To counteract these dangers, do the following:
- To obtain some distance on your candidates, bring in a trustworthy outside advisor or, better yet, join a highly successful peer group organization such as The Alternative Board.
- Arrange for the applicant to work in several sections of the business, if feasible, to observe how well they perform in those situations — and to assist them in gaining much-needed experience.
- Finally, consider the difficulties if the successor was not a capable family member.
- Meet with this person to see whether they want to stay with the family firm and support the new boss.
“Do not make the mistake of retaining a candidate on board solely because he or she is a family member,” says Concannon Miller, an accounting firm. “The firm is better off breaking the connection sooner rather than later,” if you and your leadership team believe the family member will not sufficiently support the incoming CEO.
Finally, and maybe most significantly, don’t linger after the new leader takes office and clogs up the system. Make yourself accessible, but don’t provide unsolicited counsel or direction. Allow the new leader to develop their style — and credibility — without interference from “the old guard.”
This is the hardest part. Parents say goodbye to their children. Birds leave the nest. The next generation arrives…whether we want it to or not.
Times change fast. We don’t always keep up. Events move too fast and our brain moves too slow. Is this an inevitable tragedy? Not at all. Life goes on. Sometimes it embraces us. Sometimes it pushes us aside.
The wise CEO appoints a successor and seeks balance. Knows when to say good-bye and bow out. Then find new worlds to conquer!