Wednesday, January 22, 2020

A Sticky Situation. Our panel weighs in

sticky situationWe have a regular column in choice, the magazine of professional coaching called sticky situations. A “sticky situation” is a problem a coach is having that we ask our panel of experts to weigh in on.

In this sticky situation, our panel dealt with this issue.

“My corporate client is facing a crisis in leadership. The founder/CEO is an exalted, legendary character (think Steve Jobs), who could sell the company for millions and walk away. He built the company and the community around it, so I think he’s inclined to find a way to transfer ownership. How can I help him decide, and if he stays involved, how can I help him find new leaders? “

Here’s what one of our experts, Suzi Pomerantz, had to say…

As the coach, you have two distinct explorations to lead with your client on the subject of legacy: 

  1. What does he want his legacy to be as the founding leader of the company, and 
  2. What’s best for the organization?

As you explore the first topic, it’s worth asking him: 

  • What matters most to you?
  • Why did you create the company in the first place?
  • What is your highest purpose?
  • What gives you meaning/what do you find most meaningful about your contribution to the company? 
  • How would you like to be remembered?
  • Who do you want to be in the matter of the transition out of the company you built?
  • If you could go out in the best possible way, what would that look like?
  • What, if anything, stands in the way What, if anything, stands in the way of that exit strategy?

As you help him explore the impact to his organization:

  • What is the core secret to the company’s success and how can you ensure that core sustains after you leave?
  • What will be the community, leadership, and cultural impacts on the organization when you leave?
  • What approach would represent the most seamless and aligned transfer of power and cause the least disruption to the formula for success?
  • Would intentional, strategic disruption create positive growth and innovation, and if so, how should you time your sale of the company in order to capitalize on that disruption?
  • Are there potential home-grown leaders within the existing ranks of the company who could be successors?
  • What are the ideal leadership characteristics, skills, and knowledge needed for the next generation of leaders?
  • What can you do now to groom up-and-coming leaders and create a solid succession plan?
  • What do you foresee to be the biggest challenge to the organization, culture, community, and employees?

Once he has some clarity about the above explorations, you might help him craft a communication strategy to his directs, the entire staff, the board, and the media, ensuring he controls the narrative of his legacy before, during and after the sale of the company.

He needs you to help him to remember who he wants to be and how to align his decisions and choices about legacy and succession planning and transfer of ownership in ways that are congruent with who he wants to be.

What great powerful questions and a great direction for the coach and the client.

For the full article including the other views and support of our other two experts, see the September issue of choice, the magazine of professional coaching Volume 17, Issue 3, Taking Care of Business. Building a vibrant corporate coaching culture

 If you have a “sticky situation” please email us at

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