From Jedi to Yoda - Preparing for Leadership Succession

Date: Oct 29 2020

Sara Hamilton, Founder and CEO

Preparing for leadership succession may be the single most important planning element for a family and family office. Ivan Lansberg, Co-Founder and Senior Partner, Lansberg-Gersick & Associates, describes the two different sides of the coin, so to speak, that define succession:

  • The challenge of letting go, from the perspective of the current leader; and
  • The challenge of taking charge, from the perspective of the successor.

First he explores the challenges facing the current leader in the process of letting go. These transitions are hard enough in a normal environment, but right now there is so much disruption at one time, it makes most of us more cautious about the future. Lansberg asserts that families who have done their homework before the crisis, and put in place the governance that articulates their values, vision and purpose, they are able to respond in a much more effective way to the crises.

Looking more closely now at how to harness the wisdom of the senior generation. This takes us to our title today, moving from the Jedi to the Yoda. As you transition out of decision-making and into more of a Yoda, you have a new role now, a role of imparting the wisdom of your experience.

Succession has to be strategic, and driven by a plan toward what you have now to where you want to go. Often families use their loving feelings about each other to make decisions, and although it sounds nice, that’s a mistake.

Lansberg looks at the other side of the coin, evaluating succession from the eyes of the successor, the person taking on the leadership challenge. Some of the most successful successors are those who engage directly in the challenges. These trials are terrific opportunities to demonstrate what new leaders offer.

When the new generation takes over, it is important for everyone to be aligned around that process. The best choice is to be able to collaborate across generations.

Founder and CEO of Family Office Exchange, Sara is a recognized visionary in the private wealth community. While a trust officer at Harris Bank in Chicago in the late 1980s, Sara witnessed the emergence of family wealth management as an industry. Hundreds of U.S. families became centi-millionaires overnight through leveraged buyouts that spawned private financial offices commonly called family offices, to manage family assets and educate wealth owners. Sara was the first professional to recognize family offices as a complex market segment in wealth management.

Areas of Expertise: Enterprise Families, Governance

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