Your family business is like a professional sports franchise: You are the owner and your successor is a first rounder. The future of the organization depends on you and your team’s ability to properly develop your first round pick.

Like your successor, the first round draft pick is an individual of high notoriety. Everyone in the organization knows their draft status, signing bonus/salary, and has an opinion about their ability to be a leader. In addition, due to their “star status”, your first rounder may be given the inside track to the top while the rest of the team is left to fight it out on their own. Often times, perceptions and circumstances surrounding your first round pick can lead to a microscopic individualistic dynamic. The isolation that can come from notoriety is often at odds with the impact teamwork has on the success of the organization. The fact is, a first rounder must earn the respect of his/her team while receiving notoriety and/or special treatment

In a situation where his/her success depends on the performance of others, the first rounder has a monumental task in developing meaningful relationships with non-successor peers. This is a lot to ask of an individual, so you must be careful when choosing your first rounder.

An organization’s investment in their first rounder is significant. His/her development is subject to considerable scrutiny by both coaches/managers and teammates/coworkers. Their successes are expected, while their failures are magnified. This is why positioning them for success is critical in the early stages of development – building self-confidence as a result of small victories can help create powerful momentum in their development.

There is a lot riding on the choice of a first rounder and those in support of the decision tend to be emotionally motivated to prove themselves right. Interference or special treatment by coaches/manager may be necessary at times to help development. However, overt favoritism, well-intended as it may be, it does nothing but build a wall between your successor and their teammates. For example, the most important lesson an athlete will learn is how to deal with failure. Every athlete goes through a slump at some point. It is how one deals with failure and challenges that separates him/her from their peers. This is where character is born and respect is earned. Failure must be an option for your successor; otherwise you are robbing him/her of perhaps their most character defining opportunity.

Because failure is an option, you need a back-up plan. Fortunately there are 49 more rounds of the draft. Although none of these picks may have the same ability as your first rounder, it is very likely that a small group can fill the void, at least for a time. Identifying and retaining a capable support team is crucial to the future success of the organization. This team should be developed in concert with your first rounder’s strengths and weaknesses, with clearly defined roles and expectations.

Lastly, I believe the primary purpose for a little league coach to have an assistant is to have someone to work with the head coach’s son. There is no doubt that coaching is better received by someone other than “Dad”. It is recommended that you avoid direct oversight of your first rounder in the early stages of development. This will go a long way in separating on the field issues from off the field issues.

Proper development of your first rounder with a supporting team will help build a dynasty – success through the next generation.

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