The Future is Today

Published on January 2, 2003

In your role as a leader, are your actions solely addressing the issue of closing sales now, or are part of your actions positioning your organization for the future? The future starts today! If we don’t take time to work on it in the present, then it will suddenly appear and we won’t be prepared for it.

Steve Epner, President of BSW Consulting, Inc., shares this story of how he has addressed this issue.

Steve had to look at where his company was going long-term. He had two main concerns; making sure both his clients and people were properly taken care of. Steve had to address this issue in case something happened to him, or in case he wanted to slow down or retire. He did not have the liberty to slow down until this path forward was addressed.

Steve went down the road a couple of times trying to find the right individual who could step in and take his place at the right time. The most important lesson he learned the first time going down this road is that the first person you speak with is not necessarily the right person to succeed you. And, he also learned that the right person should not be a clone of himself, nor an individual you can mold. When you try to mold someone into something they are not, they may act that way for a while, but not really live it. What works is to find an individual who shares your values, work ethic and goals; and then allow that individual to use their unique strengths and talents to build upon the success you have already created.

Steve also found that it is easier to identify the right individual when you have a chance to see them in action. He started working with his replacement on a project basis, as a consultant. During this time, they got to know each other and saw opportunities for the individual to assume additional responsibilities. Over 9-10 months, they were able to decide on what the future could be and together built a succession plan. Because Steve did not try to remake someone, it was easier to find the right individual and make it work. Also, making clones is not sound business. You just want to make sure their way is congruent with your goals and values for the organization.

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