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Busting a Succession Myth: Talent and Intelligence Are Overrated!

I know.  You thought you were supposed to pick the best and the brightest. Once upon a time so did I.  And then I learned a very important lesson:  The most talented person is not always the best person, and some people really are too smart for their own good.

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How to Use Your Business Processes to Build a Solid Reputation

A client and I were walking back to my car when she asked, “When should we start to get concerned about our business reputation?” After a few seconds of thought, I answered “Well, if you wait until you have one, it could be too late. So I suppose the best time to be concerned about your reputation is before you actually have one. Then you still have time to help shape it rather than recover from it.”

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Rediscovery: The Secret to Life Transitions

Regardless of the kinds of activities you follow – sports, music, movies, politics, etc. – you’ve probably wondered why some people hang around for so long, and sometimes too long. Brett Favre may have played one season too many. Frank Sinatra may have sung a few years too many. Why it happens is fairly simple; and how it happens should be a lesson to all of us. 

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How Do I Get People Focused on a Model of Excellence?

If you want people to focus, you have to give a clear picture of what you want to have happen. Business is a funny animal. Sometimes we start out building a racehorse, and we wind up with a camel that can be more stubborn than a mule. All three are useful; all have their place; and all can get you where you want to go. But the ride’s ease and comfort in getting there will be different. 

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The Perfection Fallacy and How It Holds Us Back

Winston Churchill, perhaps one of the greatest leaders of all time, continues to be a leadership muse for me.  There are a number of highly regarded people writing books and blogs about leadership, often suggesting that following their formulaic approach ultimately makes the difference between a good leader and a great leader.  Such people do us all a great disservice.  To quote Churchill:  “They say that nobody is perfect.  Then they tell you practice makes perfect.  I wish they’d make up their minds.”  

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Does the Perfect Successor Really Exist?

Many people have been told about “snipe hunts” or have experienced “wild goose chases.”   There’s a funny thing about those two expressions.  There really are wild geese; and snipes really do exist, but they are hard to find in the real world.  

Looking for the perfect succession candidate is much like the proverbial wild goose chase or the “hazing induced” snipe hunt.  In some cases, the perfect candidate just doesn’t exist, either within the family or within your traditional circle of candidates.  

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We’ve Got This Great Business No One Wants. Now What Do We Do?

For some of us, this is a classic conundrum – you know, a riddle sometimes having no “good” options.  Fortunately, succession planning almost always involves one or more “good” options.  For our purposes, those options include transition of the business to the next generation; sale to employees or to an outside third party; or, liquidation.  The sooner you know which of these makes the most sense for you to follow, the better off everyone will be.

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What You Should Know Before You Make Someone a Partner/Owner

If you haven’t been in this situation yourself, you probably have one or more friends who have.  They  have rewarded a  highly productive employee by making him/her a non-family partner (NFP) in a family owned business.   

Maybe you’re about to do the same thing yourself.  That’s big of you, really; and some people might actually appreciate the honor you’re bestowing on them. Others will probably think “It’s about time!”  And then, it gets worse.  The loyalty formerly shown to the organization seems to vanish, and the imperial partner syndrome emerges. 

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Struggling with Your Business Partner? 5 Ways to Find Common Ground

If you happen to be an active majority partner in a business, you may sometimes find yourself struggling for alignment with your minority partner or partners, especially if the minority partners are also involved in the business.   They assume because they have some percentage of ownership that they have the positional power to make unilateral decisions that move the business in a direction that suits their liking, regardless.  In short, they throw their “weight” around; and they pay little attention to the unintended consequences of doing so.

 

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50/50 Partnership Not Working Anymore - How to Resolve While Still Maintaining a Working Relationship

Partnerships are curious animals.  Two or more people start off with a great idea; decide there’s some synergistic benefits in working together; shake hands; and start off with the very best of intentions.  And then everyone lives happily ever after.  

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Where in the World Did You Get The Idea That People Never Change?

Sometimes our beliefs hold us back.  I am talking about what we consider to be “a fact”.  If I had more time and room, I could cite comment after comment that was proven to be inaccurate. Perhaps one of my favorite misquotes is attributed to a former Director of the Patent Office, who supposedly said in 1899 “Everything that can be invented has been invented.”  There’s really no proof that Charles Duell ever said that, so I use it to prove my point and not to trash the former Director.

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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

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?

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?

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

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

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?

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

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

“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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