When does a founding family business member let go? How do they handover?
When a family business founder begins to have thoughts about his or her role in the family business and how long they plan to remain in the business, or whether they should be thinking of ‘handing it over’, or developing their successor, it is often a challenging time. And it is a defining moment for the future of the founder, the family and the family business (FB). It is also an emotional time. It can be a time of frustration for some, avoidance for others, but it can also be a time for hope, inspiration and freedom.
In his book, The Hero’s Farewell, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld shares the research he conducted with 200 CEOs and 50 recently retired CEOs, many of whom were family business leaders and founders – often visionaries, business leaders identified with the plans of the organisation that they led. Sonnenfeld identified four types of ‘Exits’ or ‘Departures’ and believes that the style of departure is every bit as important for those who will follow his/her reign as his/her rise to power. He described the four ‘Departure’ types as follows: