Through this column I try to help the reader address challenges they may be facing by asking myself, “What would I want if I were in their shoes?”
Then, I share the insights I’ve learned in my career.
Over the years, I’ve seen how the cloud of a family crisis can hinder smart people from exercising good judgment, so hopefully these articles help. As humans, we are prone to lose our objectivity when confronted with a crisis in our own lives.
Twenty years ago, my late husband received a diagnosis we weren’t expecting. A few months later he passed away. I was stunned. I showed up to work, but my heart and mind were a million miles away. Fortunately for me, my team rallied around me and carried the load as I processed my new reality.
With the perspective of time and healing, I now see my husband’s diagnosis as the informal start to my succession planning for The Trust Company. Through the crisis, I discovered my successor in Daniel Carter. His leadership during my grieving process confirmed my hopes for his career. I found the person that could carry out the vision I had when I started my business. He understood the values that made our team and clients successful.
As Daniel’s leadership capacity developed, I felt more freedom to delegate duties. I love helping people reach their financial goals and don’t plan to stop anytime soon. I’m able to maximize my time doing what I love because of the succession plan we have in place. Daniel took over the hiring process and began leading the sales team. In fact, our then sales consultant suggested that I not come to sales meetings. (I always answered the questions, I just couldn’t help myself!) Other leaders also stepped up in important ways. Daniel’s leadership style is much more inclusive and process oriented, while I have certainly been known to “shoot from the hip” and ask questions later. My style was appropriate for a startup business, but Daniel’s style is much more appropriate for a mature, growing business.
Many business owners struggle to start an honest conversation about succession planning. For some, it is a reminder of mortality or it stokes the fear of becoming irrelevant. Others find the topic intimidating and confusing, thinking, “Where do I even begin?”
As we mature, business owners need to develop a succession plan for our businesses to succeed in our absence. Like most important conversations, I suggest starting before a time of crisis arrives.
Connect with trusted advisors that know you and your business and ask yourself questions such as these…do you know how much money you need to live independently and securely? When do you want to leave your business? Who is your ideal successor? What do you want your business to look like after you leave? Who would step in for you if you needed to take a leave of absence?
Over the years, we’ve have taken up a more formal approach to succession planning, but my late husband’s diagnosis had the unexpected side effect of being the start. For years I have said that I want to be wanted, but not needed. Have you started the discussion? What’s holding you back? What will it take for you to start?
Sharon Pryse is the founder and CEO of The Trust Company of Tennessee and can be reached at email@example.com
Many business owners struggle to start an honest conversation about succession planning. For some, it is a reminder of mortality or it stokes the fear of becoming irrelevant.