Succession planning – preparing the next generation for leadership and decision making

Picture of John Broons
John Broons

John Broons is a globally awarded family business expert. One of only three people in Australia to hold the coveted title of Fellow of Family Firm Institute (Boston, USA), John has dedicated his working career to answering the question: how do I guide and support families in business to a place where they’re thriving?

As an experienced Family Business Advisor, I understand the unique dynamics, joys, and challenges that come with passing the torch to the next generation. In this article I will share some insights and advice on how you can effectively prepare the future leaders of your family business.

Succession planning - preparing the next generation
Embrace the power of mentorship

Within a family business, there is a wealth of wisdom and experience that can be passed down from one generation to the next. Encourage your seasoned leaders to serve as mentors, guiding and nurturing the younger generation. Through one-on-one mentorship, mentorship programs, or even family retreats, these invaluable connections can help cultivate leadership skills and foster a strong sense of legacy.

Instill a culture of learning and growth

In any family business, there is no substitute for continuous learning. Create a supportive environment that emphasises ongoing education and personal development. Whether it’s attending industry conferences, enrolling in executive programs, or encouraging participation in professional networks, active learning will help the next generation stay ahead of the curve and prepare them to make well-informed decisions.

Master the art of communication

Effective communication lies at the heart of successful leadership and decision-making. Encourage open dialogue and active listening within your family business. Create opportunities for meaningful conversations, team-building exercises, and conflict resolution. By nurturing strong communication skills, you’re not only preparing the next generation for leadership, but also building a foundation of trust and connection within the family.

Expose them to all facets of the business

To groom future leaders, it’s vital to provide exposure to various aspects of the business. Encourage cross-functional experiences, job rotations, and opportunities for the next generation to spread their wings and engage with different areas of the business. This exposure allows them to gain a holistic understanding of the business, nurture empathy for the challenges faced by various teams, and make informed decisions rooted in a deep understanding of the business as a whole.

Develop emotional intelligence

Empathy, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence are essential qualities for effective leaders. Encourage the next generation to cultivate these traits by providing opportunities for personal growth, self-reflection, and feedback. Emotional intelligence not only helps them navigate relationships within the family business, but also empowers them to connect with employees and stakeholders on a deeper level.

Foster a spirit of innovation

In today’s rapidly changing world, innovation is key to staying relevant and thriving across generations. Encourage the next generation to bring fresh perspectives and ideas to the table. Create a culture that embraces experimentation, rewards calculated risk-taking, and fosters creativity. By nurturing an innovative mindset, you’re equipping the future leaders of your family business to adapt, evolve, and seize new opportunities.

Remember, the journey of preparing the next generation for leadership and decision-making in a family business is an ongoing one. It requires patience, trust, and a commitment to nurturing growth. Celebrate the joy and pride that comes with being part of a family business, as these emotions will serve as a powerful foundation for success.

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