Chapter 10Derailed

Waiting for perfect is never as smart as making progress

—Seth Godin

On the journey throughout this book, we have focused mainly on the many positive aspects of the transition process and the many great benefits of arriving, successfully, at the destination. However, as we near the end, we believe it is important to discuss areas where the emotional toll can lead to derailment. We hope the discussions in this chapter can prevent the train from going off the rails, or at least help founders and successors get it back on track if need be.

The Fear of Failure—Again

In Chapter 8, we discussed the successor's fear of failure. This phenomenon presents itself in the emotions of the founder as well, often expressed as an introverted reaction. Founders, scared about getting the transition wrong, can clam up and fail to communicate. Communication of the transition plan makes them vulnerable. It makes them accountable to someone, for something. It makes them feel that if they get it wrong, one of the biggest decisions of their entire career may be second-guessed by others in the organization.

This emotion is normal, but allowing it to manifest itself in a vacuum of communication makes the rest of the organization vulnerable. Founders and successors need to permit themselves to be vulnerable instead. Successors can help founders avoid this silence trap by encouraging them to communicate the plan or the process to the organization as a whole. Even calling it the “communication ...

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