I Need A ‘Mini -Me’ #Succession

Richard Shrapnel's Orienteering Succession blog

After years of building a business upon your own capability, it is natural to look for someone just like you to step into your shoes. But this could be the worst decision you ever make.


There is no question about your capability or the achievements delivered in creating the business that you now lead. The evidence is there for everyone to see. But, as you well recognise, as you look back over what could be your 40-plus years in business, you’ve changed. You’re far wiser and experienced today than you were when you first commenced business. What you did, even a few years ago, to achieve success is probably not what you are going to do in the next few years.

Technology, globalisation, consumer preferences and so many other things have changed in the markets in which you compete. And what once worked probably needs to be modified or wholesale changed.

But the real challenge arises when you think of the future and succession and building a leadership team to take over from you. This challenge exists whether you intend to sell or transition your business. And the challenge is releasing yourself from who you are and what made you successful, and identifying what the future leadership needs of the business will be.

It’s unlikely that the new leadership team needs a ‘mini-me’. It’s possible but unlikely, simply because what the business requires to be competitive in the future is not what it needed in the past. And apart from that, there is no such thing as a ‘mini-me’ when it comes to leadership. That may sound funny but I have worked with businesses in which each leader was required to identify someone just like them as part of the succession process.

In looking to what future leadership will require, I would start with the strategic business plan for the business.  Gather your senior management team, including future leaders, and develop a strategic business plan that looks at least 10 years into the future. Consider your markets, how you will need to compete, and the type of business you will need to build. I know it’s crystal ball gazing in one context, but it’s considering the competitive journey you are embarking on.

And from this, you can ask – what type of people will need to lead this journey? This will provide you with a good starting point for considering leaders for the future of your business.


Active Knowledge Question:

  • How will your business compete in the future to remain successful? Describe the type of person best placed to lead that business forward.


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All the best in the success of your business,

Richard Shrapnel