Mentors, Coaches, Advisors #succession

Richard Shrapnel's Orienteering Succession blog

When the next generation step into the business, and the intent is for them to one day take leadership, it is an essential investment to place worthy guides beside them as they journey forward.


Active Knowledge Question:

Who do the next generation leaders in your business turn to when they seek guidance?


Once you have been in business for a while, you typically gather trusted advisors around you. Often, they start as professional advisors, but over the years, they become someone whose views and opinions you trust far beyond their professional advice. They journey with you through life and the many challenges that arise in and out of business.

If your children enter your business, there is significant value in supporting them in identifying mentors, coaches and advisors who can guide them in seeding and building a successful life. It is a strategic investment that the business or family should make. And I would recommend investing whether they choose to be in the family business or another career path.

It is possible that a family member can fill this role as guide, but family relationships come with a history and often a bias that cannot be removed. As a parent, you’ve known the child since birth, and you have formed a view of what their strengths and weaknesses are, and this perspective is difficult to shake.

Someone without that history may well be a better choice to allow a freer conversation. However, you should be there to encourage them to seek support and act as a sounding board in their choice. Importantly, their choice and someone they feel they can connect with confidentially.

Some possibilities for connections that can be built:

  • A mentor being someone whom they respect and who can provide experience, wisdom and often connections as they journey forward in building their career and life.
  • A coach who they can work with them to develop a clear plan of action to achieve specific goals and hold them accountable in attaining those goals.
  • Advisors in particular professions or skillsets which can bring to bear the necessary knowledge.

What’s the right connection, when and for what period of time will turn on where that family member is on their journey. And the guidance which will help them advance.

However, the critical lesson and skill you are seeking to develop is to know when to seek support, to be able to judge the worthiness of the advice and to be able to build relationships with people whom they can trust to support them.

Life is not a solo journey and judging whom you should journey with is a very valuable lesson to learn as early as possible.


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All the best in the success of your business,

Richard Shrapnel