Waiting to Choose and Develop Your Successor Can Create Brouhaha

“Waiting to choose and develop your successors only causes brouhaha.” Jeannette Seibly

There comes a time when you must choose and develop your successors. Usually sooner rather than later! But, too often, leaders and business owners wait until it’s too late and brouhaha ensues!

While you may be a very good leader, the problem is you haven’t taken the time to develop the future leaders or have refused to do so. Instead, you:

  • Thought you had time
  • Have done a poor job of hiring for job fit and no one is able to fill your seat
  • Have narcissistic traits and your ego (male and female) believes you are the only one that can do your job
  • Have a disability or diminishing mental acuity

Brouhaha will happen without a succession plan. Also, failure to choose successors and develop their management and leadership skills will hurt the company’s future. While many companies, especially family businesses, don’t believe conflict within the company will create a negativity, it does. Just read the social media and other media posts. Yes, it can happen to you too!

What Do You Need to Do and Know to Choose the Right Successor

Start Now by Talking It Out. Whether it’s a family member, favored key employee, or outside hire, have many conversations, starting now. During these conversations, learn about their goals and aspirations. If they are not interested or hedge, move on. Tap into your network. Remember, while some leaders have good leadership skills, it may camouflage a poor managerial style. Develop them now. If they refuse, remove them from the written plan.

Remove the natural urge to find a “mini you.” Businesses grow and change and you need the right person who is flexible and resilient.

Hire or Promote for Job Fit. It’s insane to promote a family member, favored friend or employee, or hire from the outside into a role when the person doesn’t fit the job. For example, taking a top operations or finance vice president and promoting them to a #1 position. This can cause havoc if the person lacks the qualities necessary to lead a large group of people across many difference disciplines. Remember, you cannot coach, train, or manage someone into fitting a job if they are a poor fit with the responsibilities!

Pay Now or Pay Later. There is a science to qualified assessments … they are not created equal. Some are designed for job fit use, while most assessments focus only on training and development. Use the right qualified 360-feedback and job fit assessments. These provide clarity about inherent strengths and weaknesses, leadership blind spots, and emotional intelligence. Read how to select the right one: Chapter 9 in Hire Amazing Employees.

 “People are promoted to their level of incompetence!” Peter Drucker (Please, reread … I’ve seen this happen way too often! It is preventable!)

Honor Your Promises. I’ve seen successors hired, but the owner or #1 person refuses to relinquish their role. This can be difficult for many reasons: poor job fit of the newly hired successor, fear of leaving, or unexpected business changes. Have the conversations up front acknowledging changes may happen. Also, provide an exit plan for each of you to avoid any litigation or company brouhaha.

Ensure Coachability. It’s critical the future successor is coachable. Are they willing to learn from you? Are they willing to do the work with an executive coach and develop their mindfulness, decision-making, and interpersonal skills? Remember, while they have been coachable as #2 or #3 in the organization, it is very different being #1. (Too often, #2’s or #3’s success depends on #1 telling the person what to do.)

Can You Get Out of the Way? Letting go of the reins for any reason can be difficult. You’re human and have emotional attachments that get in the way of objectivity, especially when you’ve grown or developed a great business. Be coachable and let go of the reins while you can still enjoy watching and smiling at the next generation’s progress! Getting out of the way requires soul-searching of whether or not you’re ready.

Conduct Internal and External References. While this can be part of the qualified 360-feedback process, beware! Some employees give bosses and leaders high marks because of their likeability. But that does not equate to having the qualities required to be the right leader.  Listen and learn by asking employees (current and past), vendors, and customers for their input.

Start Now and Update Every Two Years. Put the plan in writing and update! Share with the key leaders. Remember, people’s goals and company focus will change. Even a slight shift can cause a big disruption if the wrong leader takes the helm. So, don’t be afraid of modifying as appropriate.

REMINDER! Use this article as a wakeup call if you’re still on the fence. Call me for a confidential conversation. You would hate to have people shaking their fists in anger or stomping on your grave because of your refusal to get real. You have a moral responsibility to honor your employees, vendors, and customers to ensure they are well taken care of. Create your succession plan now and develop those successors today!

©Jeannette Seibly 2023 All Rights Reserved

Jeannette Seibly is The Leadership Results Coach. With over 30 years as an award-winning international executive coach, speaker, and business author, Jeannette’s clients effectively work through sticky situations and challenging relationships to become positive influencers. Contact Jeannette for a confidential discussion. PS: She’s also a three-time Amazon Best-Selling Author!

A note from Jeannette about developing your successor: Too often leaders hang on too long. Then, life happens and there is not a successor(s) to continue and move the company forward. Waiting is not the answer! Get into action now! Contact me for a confidential conversation about what is in your way of moving forward.

NOTE: It can be difficult making the right decisions and the right changes. I love coaching and supporting current and future leaders during critical and strategic situations. Contact me if you want an in-depth, one-on-one hour over 13 weeks. Remember, coaching speeds up your ability to trust yourself. This, in turn, influences your team for unprecedented results that others applaud.

How’s your leadership development progressing? Are you moving forward … or a tad stuck? Do you need a “nudge” or “kick-in-the-butt?” Want to accelerate and soar your results? Get into action by contacting me for a confidential conversation.

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