I am often struck by how difficult it is for brilliantly successful people to achieve their ultimate goal – seeing the business they worked so hard to build continue in their family. Sometimes the very person who has dreamed so many years that grandchildren and great grandchildren would be part of the enterprise that bears their family name becomes an obstacle to the dream coming true.
Some want to work until they actually die at their desk without considering the devastating impact such a cataclysmic event would have on their family and their company.
Others can’t see the necessary skills and business acumen in their children who are available to succeed them.
Both of these scenarios can sometimes benefit from adopting a form of the Nike slogan, “Just Do It”. Not to suggest recklessly delivering the keys to a Ferrari into the hands of someone with a learner’s permit. But it is equally unfair to accuse someone of reckless driving when you have never seen them behind the wheel. The ability to have the opportunity to prove your mettle in real P&L responsibilities is the crucible that will provide either the confidence for succession or reveal what needs to improve before succession occurs.
Too many apparent heirs to the leadership of their family business have never had the opportunity to develop their confidence and the confidence of others in their ability to assume real responsibility. When children are protected from the opportunity to fail neither they, their parents nor their siblings have enough data to develop the confidence necessary for successful succession.