Eventually, you’ll leave your agency. You can do it your way—on your timetable and at an ideal price. The key is to transition the firm to a chosen heir apparent with proven leadership skills. In this piece, we discuss effective succession, a key part of your grand exit plan. We’ll review the vital components of success: advance planning, an orderly process and the factors to identifying that one special person.
LEARN HOW: CLICK ON THE ARROW, UPPER RIGHT
Identify your successor now.
Benefits of a succession plan
1. Protecting your legacy. This process is not about replacing you. It’s a vital step to sustain your agency. Careful planning now will ultimately preserve:
2. Overcoming predictable hurdles.. There are myriad challenges to overcome. Typically, owners choose the most talented manager. But, you must:
— your original vision and the firm’s culture — your clients’ reputations and operations, and — the staff’s future financial security.
— choose a person who can also get staff to follow him/her — anticipate a talent drain as runners up may leave, and — manage unresolved issues that your successor inherits.
3. Improving the business. A succession plan will help you manage the challenges, smooth the transition and ensure future success. We'll also help: — align the staff around your mission — preserve the agency’s corporate values, and — establish a strategic growth plan for success.
KEY STRATEGY: LEADERSHIP COACHING >> It’s vital to support successors early. We'll cultivate a leadership style that promotes followership. We’ll set ambitious goals and collaborate regularly to gauge energy, performance and staff perception.
A proven leadership process
1. Assessing operations — Prosper Group has expertise to evaluate your firm’s strategy, leadership and structure. We’ll measure effectiveness and talent VS. your core strategy. We’ll assess the efficacy of your successor’s leadership. And, we’ll challenge CEO candidates to fix problems in order to gauge their strengths. THEN, we can determine areas for improvement.
2. Conducting interviews — Our team will assess performance VS. career preferences, aptitude and motivation. We’ll ID gaps in skills and recommend options for development. Then, all recommendations will be shared with candidates to solicit input and action. Upon consensus, we’ll craft development plans tied to aspirations. Expectations will be aligned with strengths. And, discrepancies will be resolved with a new role or a planned exit.
3. Performing 360°queries. — We’ll also engage all peers, coworkers, and outgoing leaders to see how each candidate’s leadership is perceived. Next, we’ll give feedback to you and each candidate. Then, we’ll tailor the individual development plans to enhance their performance. All along, we’ll establish detailed responsibilities for the CEO job. Plus, we’ll determine if an external candidate is needed—early on and one year in.
GOALS OF SUCCESSION — #1) ID all agency needs plus leadership and talent gaps. #2 Ensure that all of your senior leaders believe we ran a fair, thorough process. #3) Identify compensation / roles to entice runners up to stay at the firm.
Traits of a great successor
1. Leadership talents such as: — great communication skills and a good temperament — an ability to keep staff morale high and negativity low, and — the skills to motivate and inspire others to new heights
2. Leadership capabilities like:
— demonstrated leadership and a desire for future growth — talent in client service, new business and teamwork, and — proficiency in assigning responsibility and accountability
3. Client business-building talent such as: — an ability to develop proprietary products / IP for clients — the talent to provide clients with smart strategic counsel, and — know-how to build relationships with clients and prospects
4. New-business savvy including: — an ability to position the firm to consistently win pitches — a vast network of contacts to bring in new accounts, and — the vision to link actions to the mission, vision and strategy
5. Business acumen such as: — an understanding of what drives stability, growth and profit — a proven track-record of leading teams and building trust, and — the capacity to recognize steady, ongoing improvement
6. Broad experience in:
— core agency functions (e.g., talent, operations, IT, finance) — building teams, clarifying roles and assigning responsibility, and — honing your service offerings and processes for growth
Closing Advice: avoid pitfalls
WHAT TO BEWARE: avoid the candidate who habitually:
manages people as opposed to leads them
possesses an autocratic leadership style
cannot delegate and empower others, willingly
focuses on work and processes, not on people
lacks decisiveness and confidence, and
exhibits fear and anxiety under stress.
WHAT TO EMBRACE: choose a person who can routinely:
encourage, motivate and inspire followers
be courageous and decisive under fire
communicate the agency’s vision and values
relinquish his/her current role and embrace leadership
encourage intelligent risk-taking by managers and staff, and
provide truly constructive feedback to the team.
In the end, a great Leadership Coach can help your successor empower teams, include leaders in decision-making and preserve your legacy. Prosper Group's Leadership Coach, Ken Jacobs, ACC, CPC, is an expert at helping successors transition from daily managers to visionary leaders. Contact us for support now. And Prosper.
Prosper Group can help you unleash the power of leadership—in you, your agency successor, and your people. Our experienced and certified coach, Ken Jacobs, would be happy to speak with you to explore how leadership coaching can help you and your senior managers become highly effective leaders. Simply call now for a complimentary consultation.
Our team has the experience to grow your agency and maximize its value. Each partner here has owned, managed and bought / sold a successful agency. So, we understand the challenges you’re facing. Together, we can solve your most pressing problems. Propel agency performance. Knock down the barriers to growth. And help your agency become a more valuable asset. Then, you’ll have more viable options later on to capitalize on your life’s work.
After all, your firm is a means to an end. Improving and selling it for a premium price is the key to securing your future. Yet, unlike many M&A firms, we will not rush you into a sale. Our team will carefully consider your financial goals and personal needs. Then, we will map out the best path for you. We hope that we can become your partners for prosperity.