Many founders of businesses who have the intent of passing the business to their children find it difficult to develop a plan and a process for the development of the next generation and the subsequent transition of the business to the next generation.
The founder’s heart is generally in the right place in their desire for the next generation to take over the business, make the right decisions, and accept the responsibility. Statements and comments frequently made by the senior generation may include why don’t they tell me what they want to do; what do they want; why won’t they just step up and take responsibility, or what do they expect of us?
In subsequent conversations with the next generation, they state, why doesn’t Dad / Mom just tell us what they want, which one of us will be president, when will they retire, or what will they do when they retire?
What was intriguing in those conversations was the fact that in most cases the next generation was often not given opportunities to learn how to make critical long-term strategic decisions and did not have / or participate in family council meetings to learn how to analyze both family and business issues. In some situations the next generation did not have the opportunity to learn how to operate the business.
It is critical for the senior generation to consciously and specifically help the next generation grow. The next generation needs to gain the expertise, experience, mentoring, tacit knowledge, passion, and internal drive to continue building the family legacy. The next generation needs to hear praise, encouragement, appropriate guidance and the confidence of the senior generation. When the proper plans, processes, and guidance is in place by the senior leadership, the next generation can continue building the legacy.
“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worst when they despise him. But of a good leader, who talks little, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say, ‘We did this ourselves.'”
What have you / are you doing to prepare the next generation?
What will the next generation say?
In many situations the help of an outside facilitator can help guide the process. If you would like to discuss this in more detail, please email me.