Engagement and Stewardship
‘I can’t wait to get my hands on the business and then I can run it the way I want.’
Have you heard this said before? The next generation can often become impatient with the existing leadership team and you can see them ‘chomping at the bit’ just waiting to get their hands on the business. Waiting to be able to do it their way. Waiting to take control. Waiting to not have to explain themselves all the time. Waiting to be able to make the right decisions and get the business going in the direction they want.
There are two fundamental transition issues that this ‘waiting’ raises: engagement and stewardship, which, if not addressed, can gravely undermine the transition process.
We all know nothing can be more frustrating than having to wait for your turn when you just can’t see anything changing month after month.
If you are serious about transitioning the business to the next generation then you must engage their minds, hearts and spirits — preferably from the moment they are born. And certainly, from the moment they join the business.
Yes, they need experience and, yes, they need to learn what has made the business successful. But the new generation joining the business see it as the ‘family business’ of which they are a part of and to which they wish to contribute.
You must engage them actively and to their fullest capacity to grow them into the leaders you want, and need, them to be.
And this may mean you have to step back a bit and let them have some of your space. The second key issue is stewardship. It’s important in a family business that each generation of leaders see their role as one of stewardship, not ownership. They are taking the reins of leadership to continue the business successfully so it may be passed on to the next generation. Success does not lie in them proving themselves to the incumbent leaders, their siblings, cousins or themselves for that matter.