Weekly Thoughts: February 26, 2018
"Traits of a successor"
When look for a successor it is important to look for certain skills abilities and attitudes of that individual. It is even more important to look for those skills in an impartial manner especially when it pertains to a relative. Partiality toward a family member as a successor is a major cause of generational business failure. With that in mind, it is vital that, at least the major traits are reviewed.

With that in mind, we reviewed some of the most successful “next generation successors” we know and we have come up with the top 12 traits (we got a baker’s dozen!) that separate successful successors from the “rest of the pack.”

This certainly is not a complete lists but without these traits, it has been demonstrated over and over again, that, especially family members, will have less of a chance for success. Some of the top traits we have identified are as follows:

  • A listening attitude toward the senior generation and a definite respect shown for the
experience of that generation.
  • The commitment, as shown by their actions, to be accountable and responsible for the success of the entire company and the family.
  • To demonstrate commitment by doing "whatever it takes" for the success of the business. This includes working unscheduled hours based on the needs of the business and assisting others when needed even if in an unassigned area.
  • An open mind to learn from everyone in the company in a desire to continuously improve themselves, their knowledge, in the business.
  • They embrace change and institute it through innovative ideas.
  • Show that they love to make decisions and bringing others to decisions.
  • The ability to make decisions “by the numbers.”
  • Demonstrate high level of patience and the willingness to listen to the thoughts, feelings and opinions of others.
  • To possess a firm, fair and consistent philosophy in all business dealings.
  • Possess high energy to handle multiple tasks without becoming frustrated.
  • Possess the necessary sense of urgency, when needed.
  • To be able to set appropriate goals, plan for the future and following through on delegation.
  • A strong passion for the business and demonstrated by learning how to read, understand and make decisions by the "numbers."
  • As a family member, by placing the success of the family as the FIRST Priority.
  • Live in a manner that shows appropriate caring for all employees.
  • To live and work in a way to set a positive example by his personal attitude, word and action.
Successors must be ready with the right knowledge and skills. Choosing a successor based on emotion or birth order is the determining factor in the majority of the 2/3rds of succession failures. Having the right dialogue about what is required of your successor, assessing them to be sure of their abilities and desire to learn, along with their personal commitment to the family and the business, is the only way to objectively choose the right successor.
Without an objective succession focus, succession planning and the choosing of the “next in line” becomes a strictly emotional decision.  The future security of the senior generation and the next generation cannot depend upon emotion. 

What traits does your successor possess? It is NEVER too early to plan for succession.
Kwaiserism: " Objective succession selection minimizes family business failures. "
View our book "Transforming Family businesses" by reading the first chapter on our web site  www.kwaiser.com .

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