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Integral succession coaching

A change in company leadership, especially if the company is managed by the owner, is a challenge for all participants involved. It is a major step in the professional life cycle of a manager to leave a company he or she as been building for years and to make room for a successor or junior. For the junior, it is also an existential challenge to meet the expectations of its predecessor in the close knit family context of the company network. In many cases the necessity to find a successor comes unexpected. To avoid the subject or find mismatching solutions might then endanger the future of the entire company.

To involve a coach early on in the process not only avoids potential conflicts but can use emotions stemming from the change situation in a constructive manner during the entire process. The family of the leaving manager needs to adapt to the changing conditions as well. Generally we have made the experience that Senior and Junior know best how to make the change in leadership. Therefore we offer assistance in turning the idea into a clear and understandable plan of action for all participants.

Basic questions

Typical questions during a change in company leadership for which we will find the right answer are:

For the Senior

  • How fast should I retract from my duties and responsibilities in the company?
  • What kind of support does my successor need from me and what does he have to accomplish on his own?
  • How do I tackle the fear that my successor might fail in his job?
  • How do I get the right amount of distance to the company after I leave?
  • What will give my life purpose and meaning after my leave?
  • How will the leave change my partnership?

For the Junior

  • What kinds of questions should I ask my predecessor before he leaves?
  • How do I handle his heritage?
  • What professional experiences should I gain before taking on this new challenge?
  • How to I tackle the scepticism of my predecessor regarding my abilities?
  • How do I make a successful start?
  • How do I develop a new company spirit and culture that fits to my manager personality?
  • What changes should I initiate and what kind of speed and dynamics will lead to success?
  • What kind of financial groundwork and freedom do I need or insuring a successful company development?

The process

Succession coaching works best when started at least three years prior to the change in leadership. We offer assistance in the following phases:

1 . Clarification Phase
(Begin: 3 years prior to the change)

Concrete tasks and a mandatory time plan for rolling out these tasks is worked out. During several individual and family workshops, fears and doubts are being addressed and perspectives for facing them and working out solutions in the new life phase are being developed.

Possible fears or doubts are: the fear of letting go, of being rejected or of failing, a general fear of the future, of possible negative actions of each side, the fear of getting old, the fear of taking on responsibility or of feeling guilty.

Possible new tasks that need to be prepared are: taking on responsibility, clarifying roles, checking entrepreneurial competence, sorting personal sense of value, staying healthy, successfully combining private and professional life.

To put these ideas into actions, an mandatory change plan is created, clarifying such actions as: selecting the right successor, preparation of the junior for the new task, clarification of the right timing for change, clarification of levels of hierarchy, initiation plan, senior-junior agreement plan.

2. Rearrangement Phase
(Begin: 1 year prior to the change)

At this point in time a successor should be determined and the handing over process should be defined. The rearrangement of the leadership responsibilities and possession are worked out. Just as in the previous phase, we offer intensive individual and family workshops and coachings. The immediateness of the change that will take place again triggers a lot of personal questions and emotions.

We close this phase with a festive family conference during which a successor plan is being signed. All common family values, goals, founding principles of how to approach one another, binding contracts, goals and steps (for example a 100 day programm) are put down in a family document.

3. Incubation Phase
(Duration about 1 year after hand-over)

Experience has shown that it takes about a year for a junior to fully function within the new role. During this time, the negotiated agreements of the change plan are carried out and the most important leaders of the company are appointed to their tasks. In this phase we are standing by for individual coachings, for the accompaniment of the first 100 days of junior and senior, for strategic developmental issues (strategy development conclave) and for support and integration of the company decision makers.


The right chemistry

Each accompaniment in the form of our succession coaching is worked out individually. Depending on the wishes and demands of our clients, a coaching can be performed with one single coach or an individually assembled team of coaches with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. The most important criteria for a successful accomplishment is the right chemistry between coach and client. It sets the tone for a trustworthy and successful relationship with successful outcome.



To reach the spring, you have to swim against the current

Nevertheless it is important to stay in motion in order to use the power of the current to your strategic advantage. Metaphors of deep see navigation are useful for consulting companies navigating through complex situations. The metaphors are also practical to visualize and simplify seemingly contradicting possibilities.