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Mark Is A Risk But It Works

Updated: May 28

Bill's Succession Planning Works

All relay teams have tales of handoff horrors. When two humans pass a baton while running at top speed in an exchange zone of just 20 to 30 meters, disqualification is easy.

Bill is a visionary entrepreneur. Ike is an expert in financial understanding and systems. Together they birth an international investment firm. Its mission is to invest in companies with a kingdom focus. They both wake up each day burning with passion for advancing their kingdom-focused business.

It is wildly successful.

Knowing there is no success without a successor (passing the baton), succession planning is an intentional and permissible conversation from the start. But it is largely a conceptual idea for the first twelve years.

Twelve years in, Bill gives the board a timeline for succession. He would like to see his successor elevated in three to ten years. His timeline makes succession planning deliberate but not rushed. It sets the board on a path.

Bill's notice to the board moves the idea of succession planning from conversation to concentration. He identifies a handful of potential successors and begins to engage them with a lens toward the possibility of succeeding him.

Of all the candidates, Mark stands out. He is a high performer and shares the same life and business values. At the same time, two management team members suggest that Mark would be a great candidate, having no idea that he is already a consideration. It is divine confirmation.

Bill approaches Mark with the idea. Mark immediately says, "No."

Two years later, their paths cross, and Bill checks in with Mark again. His answer is not so emphatic: "Not now."

Two years after that, Bill intentionally engages Mark again. This time he presents Mark with his "Ten Reasons Why You Should Be Our Next CEO."

His response is, "Let's discuss it," and they agree on a timeline for checking in with each other. They discuss milestones that involve Bill making room at the business for a new CEO and Mark divesting himself from his current company.

Unlike Bill, a visionary entrepreneur, Mark is a systems person. Bill is wise not to demand someone gifted in the same way he is.

There is conflict, but these planned check-ins help them work through the issues while they are still minor and fixable. When there is a significant disagreement on their timeline, they figure it out. Before Mark becomes the new CEO, they learn and grow toward the new day.

Because the baton receiver often is not looking back for the handoff, it is the baton passer's responsibility to respond to their teammate's movements. In the same way, in every way possible, Bill defers to Mark. The former CEO must take the lead in honoring the new CEO as much as possible.

A year in, the handoff has been successful.

A key element in the successful handoff is the board's support before, during, and after Bill and Mark's baton exchange.

Creating a business that makes a profit, blesses its community, and advances its purpose for the next 100 years and beyond requires a commitment to successful baton passing.

While 70% of most businesses never survive into their second generation of leadership, Bill, Ike, and Mark are working smart to overcome the odds.

Harry T. Jones P.S. Connect with me on LinkedIn and let me know how your succession planning is progressing. *Like all my stories, Bill, Ike and Mark's story is real; names and some particulars are changed to protect the people involved.

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