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Gators, Honey Holes & Finding A Successor

Updated: May 28

Successful business leaders can become so enthralled in their business that they forget that there is no success without a successor. They live like they are immortal, assuming they will run their business forever.

But life happens.

A routine doctor’s visit can plunge confident entrepreneurs into a sea of confusion.

Losing a key employee can radically change a company’s strengths. Sometimes these employees tire of waiting for promotion and leave in frustration. Other times, your competition will realize their value and take them from you. Companies often realize strategic employees’ worth only after they are gone.

Suddenly, it can become painfully apparent that it takes more than individual success to maintain success; it requires helping others to succeed without you in the future.

Recently, a CEO asked me how to find a successor when there is no obvious choice?

My reply? Focus on step three of my Cultivating Impact 6-Step Method for Succession Planning.

  1. Recognize Your Impact

  2. Develop Your Business As Mission

  3. Build Your Team To Maximize the Impact

  4. Exchange the Baton

  5. Multiply the Impact

  6. Finish Well

Eight years before his scheduled retirement, a good friend of mine, Doug Shierling, developed what he called a “honey hole” for potential future leaders at Nabisco.

Fishers and hunters typically use the term “honey hole.” It refers to a location or specific spot that is exceptionally good for finding a large quantity or high quality of fish or game. It is a place that avid anglers or hunters consider a hidden gem because of its abundance of fish or wildlife.

Any situation with great opportunities can also be called a "honey hole." For example, in business or sports, people might refer to a lucrative market or a team’s strong suit as a “honey hole.” This is a place to find valuable resources or an advantageous position.

Eight years from retirement, Doug hit his stride and developed thirty-five leaders in nine regions of the country for placement, an unheard-of feat. What was the key to his success? He found a “honey hole” of potential talent at the University of Florida’s Warrington School of Business, MIB program. Can we say “Go Gators?”

Doug realized that a great key to his success was having a substantial source of new talent. For economic reasons, many industries had dropped out of the recruiting process at Warrington, leaving a pipeline of available talent. For Doug and Nabisco, it was a “honey hole.”

Doug’s two-step strategy for success:

  1. Find talented potential future leaders

  2. Develop them

Finding available talent is an easy first step. Like Doug, you will need a strategy for developing these potential future leaders. And they must buy into it and believe it with you.

Doug says you have to “hug them often.” He means that these potential future leaders must know that they are a prospect for future promotion. You must be clear about your hopes and expectations for them. If they are not passionate about the business, they should be released.

Another quality Doug looked for was their ability to receive feedback. He says there are three responses to feedback: laugh at you, smile and ignore it, or dig in. When a potential future leader gets feedback and “digs in,” you have found gold.

What do you do when you realize there is no success without a successor but there are no obvious choices of the person to succeed you? Follow step three of my Cultivating Impact 6-Step Method for Succession Planning: Build Your Team To Maximize Impact!

You can populate your company with a pool of potential leaders to succeed in your absence. Just do like Doug–find them and develop them!

To help you in this process, I am doing a free six-part masterclass where I share about the Cultivating Impact 6-Step Method for Succession Planning:

  • Step 1: Recognize Your Impact Tuesday, September 26, 11 a.m. EST

  • Step 2: Develop Your Business as Mission Tuesday, October 10, 11 a.m. EST

  • Step 3: Build Your Team to Maximize Impact Tuesday, November 14, 11 a.m. EST

  • Step 4: Exchange the Baton Tuesday, December 12, 11 a.m. EST

  • Step 5: Multiply the Impact Tuesday, January 9, 11 a.m. EST

  • Step 6: Finish Well Tuesday, February 13, 11 a.m. EST

The masterclasses are free, my gift to you. Space is limited. You can sign up for the first class now here.

I believe in you!

Harry T. Jones

P.S. Don't forget to reserve your place in my free masterclass, Tuesday, September 26, 11 a.m. EST. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

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