Nurture Your Company’s Future Leaders

If your business plan includes being around for a while (most do, but not all), think about who’s going to support your leadership and perhaps one day step in to fill your shoes.

Don’t worry: No one’s planning your retirement party quite yet. As your company grows bigger, one person at the top can’t do everything. Even with a strong management team, the time will likely come when you have to expand the leadership of your company and loosen your reins. That’s what growing a company is all about. How well you manage the leadership transition determines how successful your company ultimately becomes.

Passing on the leadership mantle represents one of the most difficult transitions a leader can make. Relinquishing control is rarely easy; however, too many entrepreneurs fail to establish a transition plan or to cultivate next-generation leaders.

The issue of succession is doubly tricky for family-run firms because it brings up business and personal considerations. Some family members may not want to take over the family company; others may want to play a role but lack the training or experience. Planning is essential to ensure that the family member who assumes the helm is prepared and groomed for the job.

Although the best person to eventually take over your company’s leadership may, in fact, be a family member or a member of your existing team, don’t begin with any assumptions. Look beyond the usual question: “How do I identify the rising stars in my organization who are most likely to become leaders?” Instead, face the leadership transition issue by taking these steps:

  1. Ask yourself, “Where is my business likely to need strong leadership in the future?”

  2. To answer your question, review your business goals and objectives and your action plan, which indicate areas where strong leadership is essential.

  3. Get out your most recent SWOT analysis or conduct a new one.

    Your assessment of your company’s strengths and weaknesses helps you target the leadership capabilities your company needs to develop in order to take advantage of opportunities while sidestepping potential threats.

  4. After you identify areas where leadership is critical, begin to consider people around you or recruit new hires that you can cultivate to take on future leadership roles.

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