You’ve set up a successful business, but who leads it when you’re gone?

You’ve set up a successful business, but who leads it when you’re gone?

INSIGHTS: from the Naked Headhunter


I’ve decided to use my LinkedIn profile to take a look at issues that are generally of great concern to those of us who’ve ever started and led a business.  The company becomes your child; you watch it grow from nothing into a viable money-making institution.  And if you’re lucky, it develops into a legacy that you can leave to future generations.   After looking through a lot of different commentary on the topic of succession planning (not to mention having spoken with a number of business leaders on how they’ve approached this issue), I’d like to put forward a handful of tips that I believe any company owner or family-owned business should consider:

1) know your line of succession and put it in writing;

2) have a fixed procedure on how to implement succession and make sure it’s got the seals of approval of all statutory organs (advisory boards, executive boards, company partners, etc.);

3) solicit outside help – don’t be afraid to bring in external talent that can manage potentially tense personal relationships (i.e. between family members, among legacy managers, et. al.);

4) formulate and make public a “post YOU” vision for the company. This vision is not something that a future board has to stick to verbatim; however, it should guarantee that your company’s management team adheres to a fairly strict set of principles based on which your company was founded (i.e. on issues such as quality controls, continuous product and service innovation, community involvement, etc.).  If you’re a Henry Ford or a Steve Jobs, your business should always promote some of the key values that drove its initial success.

Which of the following succession planning issues are of greatest concern for your business?  Let me know.  I’d love to hear from you.

  • soliciting external counsel to manage succession planning processes?
  • achieving general agreement among leadership bodies on how to implement the plan?
  • identifying the managerial talent to implement the plan you’ve designed?

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