In our previous video on the topic of family business we answered the question, “How do I know when they’re ready to take over the family business?” In this video we move from theory to practice. Plenty of parents know the next generation is capable, but actually letting go? That’s another matter.
There are three stereotypical approaches to managing the transition:
You’ll get it from my cold dead hands.
Just take it!
But there is a better way, and it deals with how these two generations pass the baton when it comes to the vision for the business’s future. Vision has a huge practical part to play in how smoothly the business moves from one generation to the next.
If there is n0 vision the business essentially passes from one operator to the next. Things may continue according to the status quo, but the business won’t grow in its missional reach and impact.
If the previous generation believes they can say “mission accomplished!” the next generation needs to articulate where the business is going under new leadership. Otherwise the business will be left in a kind of limbo that generates zero momentum for the incoming leader.
When the two generations are at odds with two distinctly different ideas about the company’s vision the business rarely lasts. In these situations of vision conflict resources are squandered and time is lost to the competition while everyone wonders whose vision of the future will eventually win out. Hint: it’s usually neither.
But when there is a shared vision it is possible to make the transition while picking up momentum at the same time. Shared vision happens either because the second generation is continuing in the direction established by their predecessors, or because the previous generation has signed onto the new direction envisioned by their children. In either case the question “who should be the leader right now?” has the same answer.
Whoever is the driver behind the current vision should be the leader.
The driver is the one who doesn’t just champion the vision, but is the steward of that vision. This entails not just responsibility, but obligation. If the second generation is not at the forefront articulating, refining and applying the vision they will struggle to move beyond the shadow of mom and dad.