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“Show me the money” What it takes to be the company’s next leader – Part 1 of 3

This is the first of three postings focusing on observed realities of business leadership. 

The ‘Show me the money’ line comes from the 1996 movie Jerry Maguire and is said by a pro-football player to his agent, played by Tom Cruise.   

Frequently, I hear prospective next generation leaders express their frustration that the senior generation leader either isn’t “letting go” or the elder leader seems to keep putting road blocks in the way of the next generations ascension to the top job.  Just as often, after we’ve engaged with the family, we find out that ‘Show me the money’ is an oft-unstated motivator for the senior generation to hold on.

The most commonly heard advice from experts to next generation folk vying for the top job is:

  • work outside the family firm for a few years
  • get the appropriate education
  • after entering the firm, best that you not report to a family member
  • have annual performance reviews
  • be clear on shareholder vision and corporate strategy
  • have transparent compensation plans for family in the business

Here’s one more:  acknowledge, in writing to the senior generation leader these points:

  • how much of his or her capital have they invested in the enterprise since they took the reigns;
  • how much time, in years, has he / she spent building the business;
  • how will you guarantee the senior (and her/his spouse) financial security until their death;
  • evidence of profitability and revenue you have brought to the business
  • the ROI you forecast for your fellow family shareholders during your leadership

Should proof of business acumen and accomplishment trump the rationale that leadership change be based on it’s time for my turn at the wheel?