As I expressed in my previous post, the deployment of a succession plan should address the organizational and family issues that can impact the continued success of the business through the next generation of owners and managers.  Assuming a control freak has been at the helm, activities would include assessing the impact of the control freak and development of plans and processes that can discontinue the inherent handicaps to the continuation of success.

The most prominent curse of a control freak is that the next generation of owners and managers have not been allowed to make mistakes. The concept that “success is based upon the failures you learn from” is null and void. Further investigation should confirm that a major characteristic of the predictably productive environment is that here have been few if any mistakes or wasted resources. If there were any, the control freak would predictably blame them on an underling because fear of mistakes is what drives their excessive compulsive behavior. When controls and intervention don’t work, denial is the most popular alternative course of action. Continued investigation should also reveal that the successor’s owners and managers are not prepared for the pathway to succession success: more successes than failures. Having never been told they can “get up from a knock down and win the fight,” they may encounter paralysis by analysis as they experience or consider the possibility of failures on the roadway to success.

Another curse of the control freak is that the next generation of owners and managers has not exercised their brains and therefore is not prepared for the irrepressible questions associated with assuming leadership and management control of a business. With the control freak reserving the final call on all “big” decisions (which usually means all decisions) in which he or she can physically address, most if not all non-family managers who are competent and capable decision makers have hit the road because they would not tolerate the disrespect of not being second guessed and the lack of authority given to make decisions. Most likely, the strongest, most capable family decision makers have never attempted to be part of the business because they had enough of their control freak parent while they were in high school and college. If they have hung around hoping that the freak will retire and give them some air, there is usually a high level of tension and frustration among family members. The common scenario is that parents express frustration over their child’s lack of focus and commitment while the child/successor throws their passion at hobbies because they have lost hope that the control freak will retire or give them some slack. So, in addition to the elevated level of tension, the net result is that the quality of both the successor and the supporting management team is weak and the probability of Succession Success is substantially reduced. 

Confronted with this dilemma, we will  look at a way of curing the curse of the control freak in the last post of this series, Control Freaks and Associated Curses – Part 3.

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