At a recent meeting I asked, “What is your leadership succession plan?” After a blank stare from several business owners I heard:
“We don’t have one. What is it, exactly?”
“You’re looking at it. I’m all we’ve got.”
Family-owned business leaders are not alone. Business owners are not alone. As most FFI members know, family business leaders represent about 70% of the U.S. economy, and about 70% of new job creation. My experience is that 100% of family business leaders worry about succession planning. What about your clients?
This short article explains what succession planning is, and how OKR leadership can help your clients be more proactive than reactive. You have probably read that only 1/3 of family businesses survive from the first generation to the second. But the reason for that low success rate is because they are not well advised by FFI members. You, and your clients, can practice succession planning using OKR leadership. Think of this article as one more tool in your toolbox.
Succession Planning is defined as a process for identifying and developing your next generation of key leaders. The goal of succession planning in family-owned businesses is to perpetuate your legacy and assets over generations.
Succession planning requires OKR Leadership. Let me explain. Objectives describe what to do (e.g., transition ownership and management to the next generation). Key Results (KRs)describe how you measure that objective (e.g., assess the strengths and weaknesses of each family member and director within the next 30 days).
OKR leadership is the process for managers and leaders to practice what matters. For example, if your business needs to develop a succession plan, then you may need to increase accountability and transparency using OKRs. At many of my client companies, OKRs are written by each director and each family leader. Those OKRs are reviewed monthly at family business meetings. You may know that OKRs have driven the largest migration of financial assets and technological innovation ever recorded in human history to Silicon Valley, California since the 1970s. OKR leadership is a radical process for top-down hierarchical organizations to implement, but it is attractive to many family-owned business leaders because it works.
This is a common question. With both a simple answer and a complex answer.
The simple answer: Serve others well. Provide tremendous value.
The complex answer has at least the following 5 points.
1. Choose a BIG WANT. Humans are aspirational- we aspire to do constructive work. We aspire to build families, companies, wealth, happiness. Our aspirations are reflected in art, architecture, net worth, hobbies, etc. However, too many people lose their focus. Perhaps you are representative. As a child you may have had aspirations defined by others; such as get a job, or go to college or take care of your siblings. As a young adult you may have had aspirations defined by you; such as, build a happy family, serve others, develop my business. And all of us struggle. Challenges exist. Suffering exists. In response, we need to choose an aspiration that is BIG. When we choose a BIG WANT, not a small want such as material comfort, we become leaders. The bigger our want, the bigger our impact as leaders. A key coaching question is “What is your BIG WANT?”
2. Choose a GREAT TEAM. Humans are social creatures. We evolve as a result of strong relationships. Selling is based on strong relationships. We can assess the market needs. We can assess the strengths of others. And we can build a great team to respond to that market need. The most successful leaders have at least 6 people on their team who create creative tension and focus on results. You may need to hire or develop a great team. A key coaching question is “Who can you add to your team?”
3. Choose constructive DAILY ACTIVITIES. Leadership is not an occasional event. Leadership is an ongoing process of daily activity. Choose your activities carefully. You have access to more digital information than ever in recorded history. You should know WHAT works: Good diet. Regular exercise. Focused activity. Finding problems. Solving problems. Serving others. Tracking activity. A key coaching question is “How are you certain that you are making constructive daily activities?”
4. Measure your Key Performance Indicators. KPIs are used in all businesses. What we measure leads to results. Sadly, too few people measure their leadership efforts. For many years, I have provided scoresheets, templates, spreadsheets to help others measure their KPIs. A little structure helps. Daily and weekly accountability sessions help. Metrics define the score. They are data points. Like a line on computer software, KPIs determine your impact as a leader. A key coaching question is “What KPIs do you need to measure today?”
5. Remain humble. I have had countless great teachers, from the finest universities on the planet. Clients are the most instructive teachers. Children are a close second. All constructive leaders in recorded history shared the same trait: we are all humble. A key coaching question is “How are you showing your humility?”
If I had more time I might add more to this list…
Bottom line: YOU can save time and money. YOU can be a smarter leader today.
WTF stands for “what the f____” It’s a swear word. You should know that.
I swear by this: WTF stands for “What’s The Focus?”
When you FOCUS on providing great value to people, then you will do so.
When you focus on cheating people, then you will do so.
WTF Coaching is a process of intentionally focusing on positive outcomes in your professional and personal life.
We ALL need WTF coaching at times.
No one is successful when they are alone. Teams are successful. The myth of the solo-preneur is dead. Every successful client and alliance partner that I know of has a tremendous support team providing sales, marketing, delivery, assessments, etc.
Throughout history, our WTF Coaches have helped us become successful. They help us keep our focus.
I currently work with 2 peer WTF Coaches, because I need more help than many 🙂
Jim Collins is credited with saying, “If you have more than 3 “top goals”, then you will not make any a priority.”
Review your goals list. Narrow it to your Top 3. No more. Stay focused on those.
We know from research tinto successful people that they ALL have an obsessive focus on one goal. Not three goals… Consider Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King Jr, anyone in any history book. They had one goal. Only one. Only 1.