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Letting Go

Letting Go

When it comes to letting go and letting someone else take the reins, can you do it? Do you do it? If so, do you do it well?

Given the work my company does, we regularly deal with transitions in leadership. Some of those transitions are smooth; others a bit bumpy. The key to a smooth transition is multi-faceted:

  • You need the right person to step in or step up and take the reins
  • You need an intentional transition plan
  • You need an intentional communication plan, and
  • You need to know when to let go

Letting go is especially hard when you’ve built the company from nothing. Letting go is hard when you created the reputation, relationships, and customer base the company supports, and letting go is hard when you’ve loved what you’ve done for so many years.

One couple I’ve spent a good deal of time with, a husband and wife team, have built a multi-million dollar business, have over 500 employees, and have had several family members join the business. Now as they plan the final stage of their retirement and exit from daily operations, they’re not all that excited. Their anticipated exit isn’t as stress-free as they’d hoped. They’re not willing to let go just yet.

They’re not willing to let go because the heir-apparent wants to grow the business into an entirely new industry; one they (the current owners) know nothing about. The up and coming leadership team wants to introduce new products and are suggesting eliminating some of the “old standards” that were the bread and butter of the company in its early years. And the new board of directors is suggesting ever more aggressive business strategies. Even though all of these items are in their strategic plan, how can they let go when everything they’ve built their company on and around seems to be changing?

They learn to let go when we circle back to confirm the plans we’ve created:

  • Are they still confident in their heir-apparent? If so, why? If not, why not? How do we address that?
  • Are they still in agreement with the transition plan – their gradual transition out while others take over their responsibilities? If so, why? If not, why not? How do we address that?
  • Are they still in agreement with the communication plan – the plan to clarify for all employees, stakeholders, etc how and when the transitions will occur? If so, why? If not, why not? How do we address that?
    and finally
  • Are they still willing to let to? If so, why and what does that look like? If not, why not? How do we address that?

Letting go isn’t easy, but letting go when and how a transition needs to occur is what great leaders do.


Copyright MMXIII – Liz Weber, CMC, CSP – Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890

Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching.

Liz Weber CMCLiz Weber, CMC CSP

Liz Weber coaches, consults, and trains leadership teams. She specializes in strategic and succession planning, and leadership development.

Liz is one of fewer than 100 people in the U.S. to hold both the Certified Management Consultant (CMC) and Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designations.

Contact Liz’s office at +1.717.597.8890 for more info on how Liz can help you, or click here to have Liz’s office contact you.


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2 thoughts on “Letting Go”

  1. Alan Kay says:

    The other issue with letting go is that the people exiting don’t a have a plan let alone a vision for what they’ll be doing on the other side, i.e., that crazy outdated concept called retirement. The boomers thought that it would be about travel, playing golf, etc. They didn’t realize that they’d be dropping clear purpose – work – for a fuzzy set of outcomes over 15-30 years. They wouldn’t do that with their business goals, but it’s OK with retirement!

    Hence, letting of leadership requires a vision and plan for the post-work transition. How are you going to re-purpose yourself? What aims will you be achieving?

    With the answers to the new endeavour they departing leader can more easily let go of the transition out of leading an organization.

    1. Liz Weber says:

      Alan I love your question: How are you going to re-purpose yourself? Great question and one that I also see many exceptional leaders fail to ask and then ANSWER as they plan their exits. As much clarity is needed once you’ve moved on as before when you were at the helm. Thanks for sharing your insights Alan. L

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Posted by Liz Weber CMC on August 20, 2013 in Succession Planning and tagged , , ,