If you’re the next generation in line to take over the family business, you’ve probably asked yourself a thousand times whether you’re ready to do so. As a successor, you’ll likely have many challenges to overcome. It’s also normal for you to have a little self-doubt as you prepare to take on one of the most important events in your life. But there are a few tips that can help make the transition easier.
Tip #1: Accept that there’s a learning curve.
It takes years to develop a good working knowledge of a business. Some successors think that they should be prepared because they have an MBA or another relevant degree. The truth is that you may be the heir apparent and you may have had the best Ivy League education, but nothing will benefit you as well as hands-on experience. It’ll benefit you to learn more about the business from the inside out. This means you might take on duties and roles that you may feel are beneath you. But if you learn every aspect of the business, you’ll feel more confident to take on the larger responsibilities, like leading the company as CEO.
Tip #2: Make changes slowly.
You’ll probably have your own ideas about the things you want to change in the business. That’s one of the first signs that you’re ready to fulfill your job as a successor. However, drastic overnight changes should be avoided. Once you’ve learned all you can about the business, ask questions so that you can learn more about why certain processes are in place. It’s typical for long-running businesses to have well-established procedures and customs. Older family businesses usually also lack more innovative solutions. So, while there may be a real need to modernize the business, remember that some of the old ways are what made the business the success that it is today. Have respect for the traditional ways of doing things, while slowly implementing your own ideas. Make a list of the things you want to improve upon and prioritize them, taking care to make changes slowly so as not to overwhelm yourself.
Tip #3: Have the courage to lead with your vision.
There’s no doubt that taking over a family business is a daunting prospect. There’s a great deal of pressure to contend with, both internally and externally. You’re likely afraid of failure. Leading a company towards continued success and growth may seem like climbing a mountain. But, it’s easier than you think to lead. While you may feel you lack the courage at times to lead, there’s a simple truth to hold onto – Leadership is courage in action. It’s having the determination to pluck on and lead with your own vision, one day at a time. Remember that even in the best circumstances, there are challenges to overcome when taking over a business. The key is to diligently embrace your role and remember that becoming a strong and influential leader doesn’t happen overnight. It happens by showing up each day and climbing the mountain one step at a time.
Tip #4: Have patience with yourself and others.
A change in leadership can be difficult for all concerned – the outgoing leader, staff, and of course, you, the successor. It will take time for you to learn to trust your own decisions, so it’s easy to understand that it can take time for others to trust you as well. Remember that other people will be affected by your transition as the executive for the business. Have patience with yourself and others because the transition can be filled with angst. If you can play a part in making the transition easier for everyone, you’ll have your first success in your leadership role.
Tip #5: Get help from an executive coach.
As a successor, you probably want nothing more than to carry on the legacy of the family business with blazing success. You might be surprised to learn that two of the world’s top CEO’s, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, had help to become the best leaders for their companies. Even if you’re a good leader to begin with, an executive coach can help to make you a great leader. An executive coach can unlock the potential that you may not know is there. They can give you the tools you need to become the best leader you can, sooner rather than later.
Stanislaw Consulting has years of experience in helping successors maximize their leadership abilities. Our executive coaching services can unlock your full potential as a CEO and help you better lead your workforce so that your business is successful for years to come. Contact us today to raise your leadership capacity.