SJU IFBE Breakfast Seminar: Leadership Transitions Seminar on 9/25/2013


Participants Learned:

• Critical processes and best practices of successful leadership transitions

• Tools for developing the successor generation of leaders• Accountability structures that can guide a difficult succession decision

• The important distinctions between a management transition plan and an ownership transition plan


Our panelists :

Carolyn Greenspon is a fifth generation member of the family that owns and operates the New York Times. She serves on the Times Board of Directors and is member of their Voting Trust. Carolyn has a private therapy practice and brings extensive experience as a consultant to multigenerational family businesses working to navigate the complexities of the succession process.

Tom Clemens is a fourth generation member of the family that owns and operates Hatfield Quality Meats. Tom is Senior Vice President a key member of the team that drove the Hatfield’s transition to diversified family enterprise (Clemens Food Group.)

Christen McClave is a third generation member of the family that owns and operates Cardone Industries. The firm is now the largest privately held auto parts remanufacturer in the world. Christen is an active member of Cardone’s Board of Directors, their family foundation and their family council. After a career in marketing with Johnson & Johnson, she now focuses on coaching next generation family business leaders.



Leadership Transitions: 

Continuing a Legacy of Entrepreneurship


I. Clarify the difference between ownership succession and management succession. The process of ownership succession should be driven by a family-level discussion about who we want to be the future owners of this company? Can in-laws own stock? Can non-active family members own stock? Will we gift or sell stock to our children? These are but a few of the questions that should be addressed as part of the ownership-level succession discussion. The management-level succession process is about deciding who the next president of the company should be. Some key principles guiding this decision follow:


    1. Leadership succession is a strategy issue! Succession is not about getting Mom or Dad “out” of the business. Rather, succession should be viewed as a strategy for deliberately transitioning to the successor generation the unique resources and capabilities currently embodied in the senior generation.
    2. Invest time in the process. A leadership transition should be viewed as a marathon, not a sprint. It takes years of deliberately preparing potential successors by helping them develop the skills, knowledge base, and relationships necessary to lead the organization.
    3. Clarify the rules of the game. Does the next president have to be a family member? Would you consider hiring a non-family member as president? What are the guidelines by which a decision will be made, and who will make the decision? One of the best options is to empower a Board of Directors or Board of Advisors to choose among a group of qualified candidates.