Times of transition like Pandemics , Economic Downturn or Industry changes are the perfect time to identify and begin developing successor candidates. If you had made working on your business a priority before a forced transition hit – congratulations – this is a perfect time for leadership and successor development. If you have had your head down working in your business, this is an excellent time to step back and work on your business and begin developing your leadership and ownership bench strength. To evaluate successor candidates, you can use what we refer to as the 5 C’s, which are five key traits essential for successors.
Viable successor candidates should have a strong work ethic and an attitude of earning their way. They should have respect for the people that work for you and value them as great contributors to the business, not as pawns in your play. They should be upstanding individuals with integrity and a commitment to doing the right thing.
Each potential successor should display confidence in their ability to be your successor and in their people. More important, they should display a high degree of confidence in their relationship with you. As a part of the succession process, it’s important for both of you to recognize that you will become partners. It is imperative to have solid relationships built on trust and confidence.
Capability is the raw talent to do the job. Successor candidates, though undeveloped and inexperienced, should have natural people skills and leadership qualities. This is most evident in evaluating potential successors’ track record in effectively managing themselves. Ask yourself these questions about each potential successor:
- Are they self-starters?
- Do they follow through and get the job done?
- How well do they build relationships?
- Are they leaders or followers in their peer group or among siblings?
Competence, on the other hand, is a proven track record of demonstrated ability with the business itself. We see many potential successors who are full of talent, but have never been afforded the opportunity to really learn the business by firsthand experience. They’ve taken the elevator to the executive suite. Consequently, they lack the competency needed and the “would be” followers lack confidence in their ability to lead the company.
Finally, the successors need to develop a stewardship mentality that the business is not just about what it can do for them, but what it means to the employees, employee families, customers, vendors, distributors, manufacturers, lenders, and the community; groups that all have a vested interest in the continuity of the business. The essence of community means that the culture represented by the business is understood and respected. Potential successors must be community- minded team players who really have at heart the best interest of all parties dependent on the ongoing continuity of the business.
Beyond the 5 C’s, it’s important to identify a successor in the context of the strategic plan of the company. If you don’t know where you’re going, then how can you select an appropriate leader to get you there? On the other hand, if your vision is crystal clear, selecting a successor will be much easier to do as you evaluate the candidates based upon their ability to lead the company towards the fulfillment of your vision.
NextGen leaders can feel like they are stuck between and rock and a hard spot. Working to fulfill expectations of leadership as well as making their mark on the organization to earn respect. Click the following links for more drill-down resources on Successor Preparation.
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