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The SOAKWU Epidemic and It's Great Threat to Succession Success

The SOAKWU Epidemic and It's Great Threat to Succession Success

Recently a client – Steve – expressed great concern about complacency.  “I think it’s creeping into the organization and the family; and I’m not sure I know what to do about it.  Our numbers still look good, but we seem to have lost the ‘fire in the belly’ that drove us for so many years.”  When I asked him to be more specific, he talked about “cruise control” management; “no one is as good as we are and we’ve paid our dues attitudes”; and entitlement episodes among immediate family members.

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How to Use Coaching to Develop Successor Leaders

How to Use Coaching to Develop Successor Leaders

Studies conducted by various authors and organizations indicate that it is becoming increasingly difficult to be a successful leader.  In fact, among the Fortune 500 CEOs over the last 20 years, 30% have lasted fewer than 3 years.  According to the Harvard Business Review, an astonishing 40% of new CEOs fail in their first 18 months on the job.   Statistics like those aren’t important.  Usually.  But suppose we’re talking about your successor.  Do you want your successor – and in a family owned business that means your daughter or son – to be one of those casualties or do you want them to become part of the 60% who succeed?

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Successor Development and Talent Management: What Makes It So Hard?

Successor Development and Talent Management: What Makes It So Hard?

Companies like to say that people are their greatest asset.  If that’s really true, why are so many organizations unprepared for facing the challenges associated with recruiting, selecting, and retaining the right people in the right seats?  

According to one COO I interviewed recently, “Talent management puts you under strain because it stops you from doing what you are rewarded for.”  This COO’s sentiment, one that I find many executives agree with, is one of the major obstacles to developing talent, family or otherwise: people simply don’t believe that’s what they’re paid to do.

Whether your business is privately held or publicly held, talent management and successor development in your organization probably share a common financial thread.  In both cases, development is expensed rather than capitalized.  Now you might be asking, “What difference does that make?”  Keep reading.

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Leadership Succession - Whom Do I Develop?

Leadership Succession - Whom Do I Develop?

Not too long ago, I spoke to a fairly large gathering of people involved in Human Resources, Organizational Development, and Talent Management.  Some worked for privately held businesses, some worked for the publicly held sector, and some worked for the government sector.  Regardless of their affiliation, all had questions about what groups of people get the benefit of development dollars.

When this topic inevitably came up, I shared a story that goes back more than fifteen years.  My client and I were finishing the definition of the scope of the development project under negotiation.  Tom made it clear that he wanted family members involved, and then he added, “I don’t have to do everyone do I?”  To that I replied, “Of course not, Tom.  You just tell me whom you want to leave ineffective and non-productive; and we’ll skip right over them.”  Tom decided to include everyone.  

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6 Steps For Engraining the Succession Planning Mindset Into Business Habits

6 Steps For Engraining the Succession Planning Mindset Into Business Habits

As a Certified Succession Planner™, I have the great privilege of talking with business owners, family members, family member employees, and key managers in those businesses.  In one of my most recent sessions, one of the participants asked, "How do you form the habit of thinking about succession and taking action to make sure that it happens?"

That really is a good question. We see later generation leaders vowing that what happened to them will not happen to their spouses, children, or key managers.   Even with the best of intentions, however, we still seem to set ourselves up to repeat history.

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4 Keys for Picking the Successor that is Best For Your Business

4 Keys for Picking the Successor that is Best For Your Business

There is another Dan Schneider walking around somewhere is the U.S.A.  I don't know where he lives, but I know a little bit about what he does.  Apparently his skill sets include acting, television productions, and related work that particularly attract the attention of early teens. 

I know this because someone who publishes celebrity phone numbers on the web has posted my office and cell phone numbers on that site.  So, when I get calls now asking if I am the "famous Dan Schneider", I simply say "Yes, I am the famous succession planner; the other guy is the movie star/television producer."

 Now most of these callers have no idea what succession planning is all about, so the calls do not usually last very long; and the caller is almost always disappointed that I cannot make them a screen star.

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Did Your Successor Just Leave?

Did Your Successor Just Leave?

Sometimes a telephone ring sounds ominous.  When I answered a call from Cliff last Wednesday, that proved to be the case.  "You're not going to believe what just happened.  Jack came into my office and told me he is leaving in two weeks!  I can't believe it - he's the person I've been counting on to be my successor! Now what do I do?"

"You start looking for another one," I replied.  "And this time, let us help you find someone who really wants to be number one of your organization and fits your culture.  Ambition may open the door.  It's commitment that keeps what's inside appealing."

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OPPORTUNITYISNOWHERE

OPPORTUNITYISNOWHERE

Take a close look at the run together letters above?  Now, without changing the sequence of the letters, break those twenty letters into a sentence.

If you've had a particularly difficult day or few days, your sentence might read "Opportunity is nowhere."  That's most likely the case if you've gotten disappointing results after completing the "Where Are My People" (WAMP) analysis discussed in my previous blog post.  All of a sudden, you have no successor and things aren't looking real bright when it comes to the key managers and leaders within your organization either.  You might be thinking, "What have I done with that list of business brokers?  I know it's around here somewhere."

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Developing High Performance Culture - Forget About Accountbility, Build Commitment

Developing High Performance Culture - Forget About Accountbility, Build Commitment

“We desperately need a culture of accountability around here!    How can I make people more accountable around here (including, in some cases, my children, my parents, my spouse, my siblings)?” 

Well, you can use your power and emotionally or financially abuse people; but that may be what’s gotten you into a commitment bind in the first place.  If you rely mostly on organizational power and position to drive results, you will generally wind up with malicious compliance. 

Why?  When most people think about accountability, they usually picture heads rolling, feet held to the fire, nose to the grindstone, or any other metaphor that refers to people being punished or hurt in some way for not having performed at a high enough level (which is usually either ill-defined or undefined and, on occasion, unrealistic). 

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Having A Hard Time Creating Buy-In? You May Be Confusing the Business with the Legacy

Having A Hard Time Creating Buy-In? You May Be Confusing the Business with the Legacy

Not too long ago, a client asked how he could get his family members more excited about the family business.  "What would you do?” he asked.  "Well, what are you trying to sell them: The business or the legacy?"  I asked.  He paused and then replied, "I don't know the difference." 

Does that sound familiar to you?  If you're the family leader, can you distinguish between the business and the legacy?  While they may be one and the same to you, other family members may not make the same connection.

The farther away potential successors get from your motivation and perspectives, the more likely they are to have different understandings of what the legacy really is.  As an example, one of my clients has done quite well for two generations by pretty much ignoring the "green" movement.  Now comes the tail end of the third generation, and guess what repulses them about the business? 

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How to Focus On Outcomes and Get People In the Game

How to Focus On Outcomes and Get People In the Game

Some people are more effective than others when it comes to succession planning.  A few people are good at it because they have multiple generations of experience supporting them; others are good at it because they have the right team of trusted advisors looking after their interests.  In both cases, they have a proven model they can depend upon.

As you participate in your own succession journey, with or without benefit of such experience, there are a few factors that will be important to drawing people into a developing legacy.  When applied deftly, they make the compelling difference between ambivalence and commitment.  Consider these points.

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Business and Family Communication - How to Disagree, Agreeably

Business and Family Communication - How to Disagree, Agreeably

Disagreeing agreeably with others is an art form.  For some of us, it’s intuitive and comes quite naturally.  For others, it’s a learned behavior driven by unpleasant experiences at home with family or at work with business associates.  And, then there’s that group that just never seems to learn how to disagree without proving themselves disagreeable.  They just get nasty and treat every conversation as an interrogation.

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Succession Planning and the "Right Time" Myth

Succession Planning and the "Right Time" Myth

"I probably should do something about succession planning, but the timing just doesn't seem to be right.  There's a wedding coming up, we've got another grandchild on the way, and none of our children seem to want to have anything to do with the business.  Maybe I should just sell it."

That's a distilled version of a conversation I recently overheard in an airport.  I was minding my own business, and I heard those magic few words that immediately drew me in:  succession planning.  What really struck me was how creative and rationalizing we can be when faced with actions we don't really want to take. 

In reality, the best time for succession planning is similar to the best time for planting an oak tree, twenty years ago.  But, for whatever reasons, it didn't.  So that takes us to the second best time:  today.

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Family Business Issues: How Do I Play with My Predecessor's Team?

Family Business Issues: How Do I Play with My Predecessor's Team?

At some point in time, the ownership and leadership batons are going to be passed to the next generation.  When that happens, there's going to be some level of trauma for everyone involved, including the new owner/leader.  When the company becomes "yours", it comes with a team of leaders and advisors that you may or may not like and whom you may or may not trust.  If you are the successor, how do you make the best of this situation?

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Debate vs Brainstorming - Which One Actually Generates the Results You Want

Debate vs Brainstorming - Which One Actually Generates the Results You Want

Some people like to think out loud.  In fact, they must talk in order to think.  They love brainstorming; it’s how they create their map of reality.  The problem is that they think everyone else has to engage in the same technique in order to have an abundance of good ideas.  As a result, they subject whatever group they happen to be playing with – family, business, community – to the same process of “out loud” and “out of the box” thinking.

These brainstorming fanatics have even gone so far as to set up rules on how this unbridled creativity is to take place.  The most important rule requires that no one say anything negative or critical of another’s ideas.  In many cases, groups – family, business, community – leave a room pleased that the walls are covered with contributions.  This ideal, feel good boost to productivity or problem resolution seems to be the ultimate in creativity.

There’s only one problem...

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Want to Get Management More Involved In Developing Ideas? Try the Incubator Approach

Want to Get Management More Involved In Developing Ideas? Try the Incubator Approach

When it comes to creativity, most of us have won the genetic lottery.  Trouble is, most of us get trapped in a “good enough” comfort zone, even when “good enough” isn’t.  It’s not that we don’t have the tools to grapple with business, family, and succession problems and challenges; it’s that we have chosen to use someone else’s best practices.  That can be a fatal flaw when it comes to succession planning.

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The Successor Coaching Cycle - Key Steps for Developing Your Successor

The Successor Coaching Cycle - Key Steps for Developing Your Successor

There are as many coaches running around today as you can imagine. There are performance coaches, life coaches, business coaches, parenting coaches, relationship coaches, and on and on. Some of them are qualified to do what they do, some will be in the future, and some will be doing something else in the future. 

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Successor Identification - Create A Program for Testing Them Out!

Successor Identification - Create A Program for Testing Them Out!

Shel Silverstein writes children’s books.  In one called The Missing Piece Meets the Big O, he covers the role of succession development with a simplicity and singleness of purpose.  For our purposes, the Big O is access to the legendary corner office; and the missing piece is the person who sits in that office after you are finished with it.

But, before there can be successor development, there must be a successor identification program in place.  That successor could be a family member, a key manager, or a partner.  Regardless of which, the person chosen must also be a leader.

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8 Must Haves In an Executive Coach

8 Must Haves In an Executive Coach

Performance coaching produces results that many organizations find wanting in the traditional performance management and appraisal culture.  The major difference is that coaching occurs in real time; and performance appraisal is retrospective and occurs – usually – well after the fact.  The practical impact is that coaching is appreciated and performance appraisal is resented.

Theoretically, every manager/leader should also be a coach to direct reports.  Maybe, someday, that will happen.  Imagine the impact on the organization from a personal and professional development standpoint if managers understood how to be an effective coach.

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Effective Leadership - What You Don't Know, Could Kill You

Effective Leadership - What You Don't Know, Could Kill You

To borrow from Thomas Jefferson, each of us holds many truths to be self-evident.  Most of those go beyond the scope of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  He and his colleagues built a republic around that relatively simple concept.  Every two years, we subject ourselves to an election process that, as many elected officials like to point out, has consequences about future choices and decisions regarding our collective welfare on local, state, and national levels.

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