b'EMBRACINGTHE SUCCESSION- PLANNING PROCESSBy Bill BoyajianAs the owner of a small or medium-sized business, your primaryIf you are passing your business on to your son or daughter or responsibility is not just to lead but also to develop new leadersanother relative, it is likely they have talents and skills different so effectively that it makes your role less essential. This goesfromyours,andperhapsastyleofleadershipthatdoesnt against the grain of almost everything an owner-entrepreneurmirror yours. There is no one best way to lead, so an outgoing has worked so hard to attain. Its a paradox that the goal is toowner must not assume that their way is the best way. Great become less important and less indispensable over time. owners pass on the ability to lead, not the way to lead.As hard as this may be to accept, eventually we have to. YoureSuccessorssucceedorfailbasedontheirexperienceand going to exit the business one way or the other, so it is vitalabilities. I have yet to see a successor who was truly ready to that you contemplate the inevitable and spend time planningtake over fail in their new role. So as an outgoing owner, you for a comfortable and well-deserved retirement. need to be patient and give your successor some time to settle into their new leadership position. Your successor will certainly Additionally, whether we want to admit it or not, as we get intomake mistakes. So did you. Thats how we learn. Your job is our 60s and especially our 70s, we slow down, lack the patienceto be available to encourage and assist your successor with and energy we once had, and are well past our physical prime.advice when called upon. By moving into a compassionate As much as we might not want to admit it, we are no longersupporting role, you will be in the best position to help prevent at our best operationally, nor do we necessarily want to beany major mistakes and support new winning endeavors.burdened with the daily stress that we once managed so easily.But that doesnt mean you should check out completely or notMature owners understand and appreciate the role they have be available for advice and opinions when asked by the nextplayed in contributing to the family enterprise, and have the generation. In fact, your years of experience and sage counselcourage and willingness to rest on those accomplishments. will likely be more valued and appreciated when you distanceLearning to celebrate your own achievements and to savor the yourself from the business, but still make yourself available foranticipated vision and goals of your successor is a tangible and advice when requested. I emphasize when requested. Thereslaudable objective. a right time and a wrong time to inject your opinions. The right time is the only time, and thats when requested. Planning succession is not the end of your responsibilities as an owner. Its more like the So to take your business to the next level, you need leadersbeginning of the end. The ultimate test of your who can help you get there. The real proof of your leadershipleadership and your stewardship will be your willnotcomefromyourabilitytobuildabusiness.Itwillability to plan and execute a successfulcome from your ability to secure the long-term viability of thebusiness transition. business by developing the leadership skills of your successor candidate and by planning for succession effectively. Bill BoyajianBill is the former long-time president of the Gemological Institute of America, and is The best owners ensure the success of the transition processcurrently founder & president of Bill Boyajian by managing their own egos and stepping aside gracefully.& Associates, Inc. His company consults for a wide variety of businesses in the gem and But other owners jeopardize good succession by underminingjewelry industry, specializing in leadership, the leadership of their successorsgoing deep into areas ofbusiness, and organizational development, family transition, and succession planning. Bill is minutia where they dont belongafter the business transitionthe author of Developing the Mind of a Leader has supposedly taken place.Your Path to Lead and Inspire People. He is a sought-after business coach and speaker, and can be reached at bill@billboyajianassociates.com.12 | The Jewelry Business Magazine'