Succession Planning in a Family Business: How to Do It Right

A man in a business suit stands in front of a window with closed blinds, facing away from the camera, contemplating succession planning.

Consider this scenario…

You started a business that is thriving, successful and well run – and you are ready to retire but your kids who work in the business are not experienced enough to run the company. You want to retire and spend more time traveling, golfing and hanging out with your grandchildren. What are you going to do?

At M&A Executive Search, we highly suggest you consider bringing in an outside leader who can shepherd the company forward, mentor your children and prepare them to run the business and follow your lead when they are ready in 5-10. The key to this scenario working out is to hire an executive who excels in working in a family business, can take direction well from you, and at the same time be a good mentor and coach to your children to help them prepare for the CEO role some day in the future.

These executive leaders are hard to find.

They require a servant leadership style of management; need to be humble and able to thrive while helping others (you & your family) be successful. These leaders are unique; they have worked in a family business previously and have dealt with similar challenges in a past role. Ideally, they are a strong culture fit for your organization and family – they listen well, give solid feedback, ask for input, present recommendations and become key contributors to the company’s survival and growth. They are able to understand the family dynamics and work diligently to make sure everyone is respected, treated fairly and can mediate conflict when it arises. They are mature, experienced and have a high EQ – emotional intelligence – meaning they can manage their emotions, manage how they respond and engage others, and are skilled at managing the situations within the company and family.

They are diplomatic, pragmatic and good team builders AND team players

Sharing information and striving for win/win/win relationships with customers, employees and company (family). They know how to engage others and lead them to discovery – without telling people what to do. They are influential, speak their mind in a positive, proactive and supportive manner and are builders of teams.

So how do you find these unique leaders? Build your network of leaders from family businesses or hire a competent search firm who specializes in family business leadership searches.

For expertise in finding leaders who excel in running a family business with a retained search firm please contact Greg Albrecht or Chandler McCoy at or

For help in securing the right culture fit with exceptional family orientation for interim, fractional or temporary leadership talent roles, please contact Dave Magnani, at