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Give Up Your Keys Or Have Them Taken Away

Updated: May 23

Old man and woman looking at the camera.
You either give up your keys, or have them taken from you!

With age comes a struggle to control many aspects of our lives. One of them has to do with accepting the fact that none of us gets to drive forever.

This drama plays out all over America every day. Sometimes, the aging person, realizing their frailty, surrenders their driver's license. Other times, this turns into a power struggle with significant others.

Occasionally, the older adult wins the struggle only to end in dreadful circumstances. They keep their keys, continue driving, and something terrible happens. Even then, some older adults demand to keep driving.

This scenario plays out in businesses every day. Headstrong leaders refuse to consider the fact that they cannot drive the company forever. Being at the helm long after they should be, they get taken away in an untimely moment, and the company suffers.

No one gets to drive forever. You give up your keys, or they get taken away. Better to anticipate and plan for the time when you will not be driving the business.

None. Of. Us. Get. To. Drive. Forever.

You want to give up your keys before they get taken away!

Using a different analogy, a friend of mine says you should leave the party while people are still enjoying you (and before the Sheriff arrives!).

Planning for that day, in the business world, is called "succession planning." And the first step? Realize that your business needs a successor!

Lesson: The first step in succession planning is to realize that there is no success without a successor.

There is one person who absolutely must understand this: the senior leader. The senior leader is the best person to drive the planning process for their replacement.

Some thoughts about this plan.

At least ten years before you lose your keys, start planning. Plan for a preferred picture of your future for your:

  • Stakeholders

  • Successors

  • Staff

  • Team

  • Family

What do you need to step back from to allow them to learn?

What areas will suffer in your absence, and how can you plan to strengthen them before you leave?

What are the weak areas?

What won't get done?

What is the preferred picture of the company's future in ten years? Five years?

What steps must you take this year to move forward?

Identify those things now and work to make sure others are trained to lead in these critical areas. Identifying these things now ensures that your purpose will carry on. You remember your purpose, don't you? TO MAKE A PROFIT IN ORDER TO BLESS YOUR COMMUNITY!

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