Often, the most impactful transition in any business is the CEO’s personal succession plan. This involves a delicate interweaving of what’s right for the business as an ongoing enterprise, with what’s right for the transitioning CEO, who will be entering a new stage of his or her life. Any exit or succession plan must consider the desires, expectations, and emotions of multiple stakeholders, including: the CEO, the CEO’s family, the executive team and key associates, the board of directors, customers, and suppliers.
In any CEO succession emotions run high, and must be both acknowledged and navigated with care. The CEO must maintain a confident professionalism with stakeholders while inwardly wondering: “What’s best for me? … What’s best for the company? … When is the right time? … What will I do next?”
Simultaneously, key executives, associates, and family members (in family businesses) are often pondering: “What do I really want? … Am I a candidate? … Do I want to be a candidate? … What will happen to me? … Where will I fit?”
Jim Warner and other OnCourse Associates have navigated these exact issues as they planned and executed transitions from their own businesses. They’ve advised hundreds of CEOs, family business owners, and founding partners through either the sale of their enterprise or a thoughtful transition to new leadership.
Our first role is to help the CEO face and go through the mix of emotions associated with any transition. Then we help the CEO get clear on his or her personal wants, and their wants for the go-forward enterprise.
When the enterprise is transitioning to new leadership, we work with the CEO on establishing the criteria for the successor and the best organizational structure. We then determine whether any internal candidates exist. If so, we work with the CEO to groom these candidates and craft the communication strategy and timing to key stakeholders. We often act as the CEO’s ally in finding and managing the best search firms and M&A firms.
We are committed to advising and supporting the CEO and the CEO’s family through and after both this pivotal business transition and the CEO’s personal transformation. Our ultimate goals are (1) for the CEO to move with confidence, courage, and enthusiasm into the next stage of his or her life, and (2) for the business to thrive following the transition.