Take These Precautions When Transitioning Next-Gen Leadership

Transitions can get messy, but done right they can be rewarding for owners, employees and next-generation leadership.

During the past 23 years of focusing on security business strategic consulting, we’ve found that owners can get comfortable and a bit afraid of tipping over the company boat.

Why rock the boat if you are making money, and hey, getting a bit tired of the effort?

We get it, really! However, Vince Lombardi said it best: “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” So how tired are you?

Fatigue in management can be leveraged by those who may not have your best interests at heart and can impact your entire team if you get sleepy at the wheel. This is especially true when you have built a successful business and are ready to slow down and smell the flowers; OK, maybe sip the wine. Nah — gulp it with gusto as long as your team has your revenue back.

Get an Accurate Forecast First

We have specialized in coaching owners in transitional (generational) change of ownership strategies. It can get messy, but done right it can be rewarding for owners, employees and next-generation leadership.

It’s important to reset realistic expectations early. We call it a “Weather Report” and it is immersive, intense and kicks over every rock; certainly not for the faint of heart. It will provide a very clear picture, engage your team, and really produce if you are serious and not fatigued.

Mixing business disciplines and family dynamics is challenging. Being certified Sherpa business coaches means we can successfully work through most drama situations. It is never 100% smooth sailing, and helping our clients effectively make this transition is trying for all parties involved. Not ready to be coached or ready to change is usually the reason for failure.

When we talk about strategy and tactics, we’re referring to long-term destination and which direction to row the boat, respectively. These words can confuse people; you too?

And when this topic gets confusing, lack of clarity in communication is typically the first casualty; not good for an owner who built a business with blood, sweat and tears. This gets trickier and tougher when a security business is transitioning generations to continue revenue streams, or preparing to sell.

While strategic and tactical are often used interchangeably in conversations, they are perceived differently between owners and potential buyers. Admirable intentions to deliver legacy wealth, retirement cash flow and next-generation brand commitment can get complicated if not planned properly.

Plan on an 18-24 month transition period if you want to do it effectively and still have three tee times every week! If you established a very strong culture, great repeatable processes and strong measurement tools, this process can be accelerated.

If your business was a “lifestyle” company designed to provide revenue without a good deal of consideration for sustainability or resilience, it will take a bit longer. We suggest implementing process mapping, communication skill development, and evaluating strengths/weaknesses of your current business model. Communication is your starting point.

Successful Strategy Takes Tactical Fortitude

Lack of clear communication with your troops, next-generational leaders and customers will work against your strategic plans. Strategy focuses on long-term objectives. Terms like, big picture and future state are often used, but I simply ask, “Where do you want to be in three-five years?”

Other questions to ask yourself:

  • What will your company and clients look like?
  • What markets will you have a significant share in and with what size customers?
  • Will you influence sales at high, medium or bid response levels?
  • Will these people have VP or C-level titles?

One of my favorite questions to ask clients is, “If you had a big BBQ party, who would be invited and, more importantly, who would show up?” Basically, strategy is where do you want to be; when do you want to get there; and who will be at your party. Simple, right?

Of course, it’s not simple. We spend a good deal of time with executives, managers and the troops with perpetual communication skill development. Strategy that’s poorly communicated confuses everyone, sets unaccountable expectations, increases stress, and will deliver poor results.

It will also contribute to employee turnover, and that is a very pricey tab indeed. There are specific tasks that need to be done to make your BBQ a success. Where are we going, who will lead, how do we gain traction (measurable progress on your journey) and why will we invest in this effort?

Get your management team to start thinking about what they must do individually and as a team to make the strategic stuff a realization. This is tactical planning — the GPS instructions of how to get there, which are shorter in terms of time to execute. Plan to succeed strategically and tactically with measurable traction — and get a Weather Report before you begin!

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About the Author


Paul C. Boucherle, Certified Protection Professional (CPP) and Certified Sherpa Coach (CSC), is Security Sales & Integration’s “Business Fitness” columnist. A principal of Matterhorn Consulting, he has more than 30 years of diverse security and safety industry experience including UL central station operations, risk-vulnerability assessments, strategic security program design and management of industry convergence challenges. Boucherle has successfully guided top-tier companies in achieving enhanced ROI resulting from improved sales and operational management techniques. He is a charismatic speaker and educator on a wide range of critical topics relating to the security industry of today and an accomplished corporate strategist and marketer whose vision and expertise in business performance have driven notable enterprise growth in the security industry sector.

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