One of my key lessons learned about being a CEO and small business owner comes from Chris Gardner, author of the book and subject of the Will Smith movie “Pursuit of Happyness”. In a reception of Inc award winners a few years ago, he shared that running a business ultimately requires you to be willing to cover payroll out of your back pocket. I’ve done that more times than I can count over the years, so at least by that criteria I suppose I have what it takes to be CEO of my business.
Succession planning in any business can be challenging. Finding a qualified candidate to replace yourself; being ready, willing, and able to let go; and ultimately orchestrating the many handoffs with your customers and staff takes not just personal commitment but also significant perseverance.
It is an emotionally-trying journey that can break down in any number of ways. Now add to that the complex dynamics and often competing priorities of a family business! Succession planning in family businesses is riddled with countless traps and clear points of failure to watch for. See below for a list of ten common pitfalls to avoid when you are planning for the succession of your family business leaders. Whatever you do, don’t let these happen to you.
Many business owners and leaders envision an opportunity and go right after it. It’s that seemingly perfect 2 I’s cycle which moves straight from Idea to Implementation. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Better yet, do not perform any due diligence, and by all means whatever you do, do not chart the course for reaching your final destination!
Unfortunately, not all ideas prove to be such great ideas when leaders move forward with their implementation efforts. More than that, many leaders get so tunnel-vision focused on the end result they’ve envisioned that they often miss many of the warning signs that may present themselves along the way.
I support a lot of individual business leaders and owners who are quickly turning their attention to their “third acts” in life. In every one of these situations – whether it’s the third-generation business leader maintaining the family’s traditions for the next generation to follow or simply the professional manager who has enabled the organization’s continued growth and success for 20+ years – they all have accomplished some amazing things to be proud of. Yet in every one of these situations, these individuals are not interested in closing the doors on their companies or taking them to their graves simply because they are moving on. Instead, they each have one more heroic act in them before they walk away.
None of course! A good leadership coach would never actually change the light bulb for his/her client. That could be the role for your management consultant or other trusted business advisors. A good leadership coach would instead offer new insights and ideas to that client based on past experiences and current thinking to enable him or her to change the light bulb independent of the coach.