Insight / Opinion

Even in a family business,
successors are made, not born.

Family businesses form a hugely successful and rightly proud backbone to UK enterprise. There are more than three million of them thriving, enduring (many are in their second or third generation) and contributing £80+ billion in taxes each year.

But it’s common for family businesses to encounter some very specific leadership issues, principally those of succession. Does the generation about to take over the reins have the knowledge and skills that will enable it to weather the next set of business challenges, especially when those challenges could be radically different from any faced by the founders?

The key is to spot potential early. Identify a worthy successor, allow them time to prepare, and make available the training and coaching that will give them the skills and confidence to take the business forwards.

Those are the elements that our Leadership and Development programmes focus on.

  • Support an individual at the early stages of his or her career.
  • Strengthen the business and leadership foundations on which their future will be constructed.
  • Set them on a steady path you can both be sure of.
  • Secure the long-term prospects of what may very well be your life’s work.

It’s equally important that the rest of the team understand that the ongoing structure of the organisation is being well planned – and that they are part of it. Uncertainty can contaminate a workforce’s morale, but the signs of strong, agreed leadership readying for a future of greater growth will boost their confidence and unify them behind those goals. The more prepared your successor is, the more positive will be that trickle down effect.

A tailor-made training programme is invaluable as it will provide coaching shaped to your organisation’s specific requirements, bringing all employees up to a level playing field of abilities for your new manager to build upon. Through regular in-house training and coaching sessions, your team will become a well-tuned machine, ready to seize on a new set of opportunities.

Successors cannot be cloned. Businesses would quickly fail if they were.

You have your own leadership style honed by the challenges you encountered in starting or developing the business. The issues your successor will face will likely be completely different, especially in an age increasingly dominated by data and digital ways of working. It is essential that they be helped to discover their own leadership style, and that this process starts early.

We firmly believe there is leadership potential in everyone. Our role is to help you identify, acknowledge, support and develop it, with realistic objectives that do not snuff out fresh ambitions and new ways of thinking with the weight of historic expectations and habits.

In doing this you will not only guarantee the success of your business, but you’ll give your successor or successors the opportunity to thrive, ensuring the legacy of the business will continue for generations to come.

Author

Jon Davidge

Head of Training and Development

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