While the economy has many builders in bunker mode, now is the time to start thinking long term — for both your business and professional career, writes business coach Mark Richardson.
Given the challenging economic environment of the last several years, many businesses have been focused on just getting through the next week or month. Longer-term discussions by both the company leaders and individual team members represent a very small percentage of time. While this is understandable, it may not be the healthiest position for the business, both short and long term. I believe a more active thought process and discussion on the subject of transition is critical to a business’s long-term success.
Many years ago, I had dinner with a very successful friend in the technology arena. He had grown his business to a place where he had achieved most of his professional and financial goals. I asked him, “So what’s next for your own professional world?” His answer is one that not only has been quoted hundreds of times, but is a model for most success-oriented businesses to embrace. He said, “I’m looking for someone to fire me. For me to grow and the business to move to the next level, I need the next leader to be in place.” For most, the thought of finding someone to fire them is pretty unsettling. But as you reflect on it, it is also quite invigorating. It’s like removing your straightjacket and taking your personal game to the next level.
Imagine doing what you’re doing five years from now. You may love it now, but I doubt you will in the future. The concept of personal and professional growth is a very natural one. You grow from a child to a teenager to an adult. Along the way, the dynamic of your day and week changes. Why should this not also be true with your business?
Succession plans are not only about exits, they’re also about the here and now. Some mature businesses and large corporations have succession plans for all mid-level managers and senior-team members within the organization. Here are a few lessons learned to consider when planning your next career move:
Just like your personal life, business is dynamic. What you see today will not be what you see in the future. The question is whether you will make the right transitions to help the business grow and prosper. By proactively thinking and discussing this subject, the answers, while tough, will become clearer.
Mark Richardson is co-chairman of Case Design Remodeling Inc. and the Case Institute of Remodeling. He is a member of the NAHB Remodeling Hall of Fame and a Fellow at Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. Richardson is the author of the best-selling book, How Fit is Your Business?, and a forthcoming book, Business Themes to Live By, to be published this fall. He can be reached at email@example.com.