Finding My Successor

Aug 19, 2022

By Darren Cherry

For many owners, one of the most challenging tasks they encounter is finding their successor, especially when there is not a logical inside candidate. Just as we want our children to have a better life than we did, we share similar goals for our business. In this case, we want the next leader to be an upgrade.

I’m often asked, what I should look for in my successor. My quick answer is someone who meets your core values and has the skills and wills to take your company to the next level. As you might imagine, this is correct but rarely helpful. If you dig a little deeper, then perhaps the best place to start with the traits observed in existing owners.

When you survey owners about the personality traits that led to their success, they will be quick to use words like determination, sacrifice, hard work, humility, curiosity, or even "dumb luck." These are valuable traits to aid in navigating the challenges of running a business.

Working with owners, I have experienced their wins, struggles, stress, and fears as they balance managing themselves and others while keeping the organization headed in the right direction. The one trait I have observed at the center of their core value system is Discipline.
· The discipline to stick to their original vision despite the temptation to veer off course.

· The discipline to stick to their original product or service offering despite clients asking for different things.

· The discipline to ignore whatever "shiny ball" demanding their attention and instead focus on what they set out to do.

Steve Jobs, the legendary co-founder of Apple, said it best:

"People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I'm actually as proud of the things we haven't done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to one thousand things."

While curiosity and grit are essential personality traits for any would-be founder, the ability to remain disciplined in the face of opportunity may be the most critical attribute of all.

If this resonates with you, please share your comments. If you would like to discuss this further, please DM me.

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