The Personality Of Your Successor

Monday, August 26 2019

Who has the right personality to take over from you? As you plan your succession, it would be wise to give some thought to the type of person who can continue to build what you’ve created. On one level you might want to try to clone yourself. After all, the business is your baby and you created it. Shouldn’t the next owner be just like you?

Maybe not.

In his book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, Marshall Goldsmith suggests that taking your business to the next level may require different skills, attitudes, and behaviours than those that have served you well thus far.

Perhaps a part of you would like to believe that you are the perfect person to run your business now and into the future, but consider:

  1. Has your business continued to grow or has growth slowed in recent years? If it’s slowing, is that the market or you? Have you hit a ceiling?
  2. Have your skills, attitudes, and behaviours continued to change and improve or has it become more difficult for you to grow and adapt? When was the last time you took a course in leadership, sales, marketing, or business strategy?
  3. Are you experiencing more employee turnover? Are you finding it difficult to recruit and hire people with whom you would like to work? Do you pine for “the good old days” when employees were more likely to live to work rather than work to live? Do you find it harder to work with a younger and increasingly diverse workforce?
  4. Have you become more risk averse? Less willing to invest in big ideas, new technology and new people?

A personality different from yours is likely required after you exit in order for your business to grow and succeed. Some of the traits that helped you succeed in the early years were necessary, but now, in a larger, more mature business new traits may be key.

As you consider who might make the best successor to your business, be it a family member, an employee, or an outside candidate, look for the personality, skills and traits that will sustain and grow your business not the way it used to be, but as could be in the future.