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.

  • Rapport overcomes resistance.  That statement may sound obvious.  If it is, a great many people are ignoring the obvious and settling for unpleasant relationships created by someone else’s inability or unwillingness to “get it”, whatever the “it” is.
  • Awareness of what your audience wants influences rapport.  For a moment, acknowledge that whatever has helped you personally create an emotionally fulfilling and financially rewarding career and/or way of life may mean very little to someone else.  Their map of the world is not the same as yours.  It’s not necessarily better or worse, it’s just different.  If you remain unaware of or indifferent to those realities, you set yourself up for a lot of disappointment and grief.  Make your legacy big enough to provide what others would like to have rather than what you want to give them. 
  • The person with the most flexibility controls the system.  Flexibility is critical to adaptation; and adaptation is critical to generations of success.  Many times, clients talk about having employees and family members who are unwilling to change.  In reality, it’s the client who is unwilling to be flexible or to change in ways that bring others into their legacy dreams. 
  • Focus on outcomes, especially those that are inspiring to others – that is, outcomes that can get them off the couch and into the game.  A well formed outcome has six characteristics:
    • Positive – the focus is on what you want to have happen.
    • Resource driven – internal and external resources are identified, quantified, and procured.  Typically those resources involve people, time, and money.
    • Self-initiated – people take action because of commitment and not out of compliance with a higher authority.
    • Ecological – they are in balance with other goals and are a part of a way of life rather than a means to a living.
    • Scored – there is a way of tracking how much progress is being made.  In a healthy ecological system, there is no failure, only feedback.  Use the feedback as a course correction.
    • Time-bound – there are mileposts and checkpoints along the way. 

The time-bound is particularly important.  To paraphrase singer/actor Kenny Rogers, you’ve got to know when to walk away and know when to stay.  Eventually even the longest running show on Broadway closes.  Be wise enough to appreciate a good run.

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