Ensuring the longevity of a family owned business is much more than creating a succession plan. Building a legacy of leadership for a family owned business is critical to the company’s survival. The most important way to plan for the continuing success of your business is to invest in future leaders.
Family businesses often become vulnerable during the course of leadership transition. We specialize in helping family owned businesses identify and develop leaders and encourage companies to begin building a pipeline of future leadership. This is the best way to avoid the disruptions that can occur during a leadership transition.
Once you identify potential leaders, here are a few steps you can take to prepare them to be successful in the years to come.
Challenge potential leaders with “stretch assignments”. Make it a point to select projects that are a bit beyond what they are currently doing in their position. This presents a superb learning opportunity and a chance to make a great contribution to the company.
Broaden their experience
Assign projects that take them outside their area of expertise. Look for projects that can give them the chance to interact with experts in a different area of the company. Not only will they learn a new skill, they will have the chance to work and interact with a completely different work team, helping them to learn more about the company.
Assign a mentor
Arrange for mentorship opportunities. Mentors offer guidance and feedback on
daily activities and can be a sounding board to help think through challenges. A mentor should be someone who is successful but not necessarily from the C-suite. Often successful “line managers” are excellent mentors for people who aspire to executive roles. They achieved their position through hard work and dedication and are usually responsible for developing new recruits. Here you can find the true heart of a leader even though their leadership is at a lower level. A great mentor should also be inspirational – Ideally they show a person what they COULD become.
The delegation of authority should be viewed as a proving ground for new leaders. Look for meetings, tasks or projects that the future leader can handle. When the assignment is one that is time consuming for you, the CEO, it has the added benefit of freeing your time while giving the future leader an opportunity to handle something at a higher level.
Assigning goals rather than tasks demands that a person think through the entire process and craft a plan. Reaching a goal requires knowledge, creativity and persistence while using critical thinking and collaboration. Achieving goals under difficult circumstances is the true test of leadership ability.
Provide outside experience to inspire creative thinking
Innovation and creative thinking is rocket fuel for building a successful business.
Encourage your future leaders to take advantage of learning opportunities such as training, educational courses, professional conferences and more. They should also be encouraged to
actively participate in professional organizations. This will give them access to ideas from outside your company which can inspire creativity throughout your entire organization.
Invest in professional leadership development
Independent studies show that companies that invest in leadership development programs show an increase in financial bottom line results and have more success in recruiting and retaining talent throughout all levels of the organization.
One thing we know for sure, leaders are not born, they are made and this is true in a family owned business.