One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.
Next, all of us assembled for a tour of the facility. Fred stopped frequently to greet employees along the way. It was clear from the top floor to the shop floor Fred was the patriarch of Tulip. Well respected and admired, his would be big shoes to fill. As we observed them interact it became obvious the staff were almost like family. Many people had been with the company for decades.
That type of loyalty and respect can't be bought or faked. Fred knew his employees' families well, and frequently referenced children and events that were important to his employees' lives as we toured the office and manufacturing floor. Whomever we hired needed to understand this intimate relationship Fred had with his people, along with realizing they couldn't replace Fred. Rather, they needed to appreciate how to nurture these relationships for the benefit of the business.
Before heading to lunch with Fred and the board, we explained what else we needed to know, why we needed to know it, and how we were going to proceed. At lunch Michael and I focused on two objectives: assessing how Fred and his board members worked together, and choosing a Search Chair.
Michael focused on assessing relationships among the board members themselves, since they would comprise our Search Committee. It was his job to gauge how they interacted. ...