Conclusion: “What Would You Do? May 2011 Case: Next-Generation Leadership”

Throughout the next few months, we plan to introduce a series of thought-provoking transition case studies designed to foster conversation and critical thinking. This article is the conclusion to our first piece on Next Generation Leadership, which can be found here.

We appreciate the thoughtful comments from our readers.  You’ve raised valuable points on the transition of both ownership and leadership.  First on “ownership,” our own anecdotal survey of “best practices” does reveal that when something is purchased, it tends to have more value than when it is given.  In many instances of ownership transfer, the younger generation provides the senior generation with an on-going salary.  While it might be argued that the seniors are entitled to this (after all, it is their business), it can also be argued that this is really a “buy-out” by the younger generation.

Now for “leadership.”  In this actual case, both siblings are quality leaders and want to guide the future of the business and while they wish to defer to their dad for a decision as to who should be the “boss,” dad does want them to decide.  When dad talked with us about it, we originally felt that dad was reluctant to make the decision because he did not want one of his children to be angry at him if the other were selected.  In fact, dad wanted Jody and Pat to make the decision because they were the ones who would have to live with it.  So Pat and Jody did make the decision… to be co-presidents.  The plan also called for dad to serve as tie-breaker in the event of a major dispute.  Once dad was no longer able to serve, the company’s Board of Advisors would perform the tie-breaker role.  The challenge of a co-presidency remains just what it is… a challenge.  But for Jody and Pat and for their company, thus far, it is working well.

Stay tuned for our next article in the ‘What Would You Do?’ series, scheduled to publish shortly

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