Founder Succession

Focussing on the human and emotional side of founder succession

Let me share my findings with you

I’m an Executive Coach and Organisation Development practitioner. I graduated with an MSc in 2022 and my research and dissertation focussed on the human and emotional side of founder succession.

My questions were:

  • What factors influence successful founder-successor transitions in organisations?

  • How can these conditions be created?

  • What might the role of a coach be to support a successful handover?

Below you will find 7 articles addressing various aspects of my research and findings, as well as a masteclass hosted by Nadja at Conscious U, where I share what my MSc research revealed from a series of interviews with founders and successors about the messy, human side of succession. You can download my references here.

I am sharing my findings with you freely and with love! My only ask is that you always refer to my research and writings appropriately, and acknowledge me as the source. Thanks and happy reading!

6 factors for successful founder succession in organisations

A founder’s departure is a crucial phase in an organisation’s life and doing it badly could have significant monetary and emotional effects on everyone involved. Not to mention the risk of the organisation closing down entirely. Why then do organisations not pay enough attention to succession? Or if they do, why is it so difficult to hand over well? What are the factors that could make it successful from a psychological and emotional perspective? And what might the role of a coach be in supporting this process? These were the questions I wanted to find answers to when I started my MSc research in 2021. I started by looking at the numbers.

Why founder readiness is key for a successful company handover

The most important factor in founder succession is your willingness and readiness to let go and pass on your initiative. Often referred to as ‘your baby’ – a project, a role, or a company you created from scratch makes you a founder.

If you’re not willing and/or not ready to let it go, it will not happen. Through coaching, we can help founders become willing and ready over time.

The role of love and flow in successful founder successions

Succession planning is a critical process in organisations, ensuring a smooth transfer of power and leadership. Through my research, I discovered a crucial element that underlies successful succession: the natural flow of exchange, in other words, love.

In this article, I will delve into the significance of flow and love in the succession planning process, drawing on interviews and real-life examples.

The importance of shared values when choosing a successor

When it comes to successful succession planning, one crucial aspect that often goes unnoticed is the alignment of values between the founder, successor, and their business.

In this article, we will explore why values alignment plays a vital role in the seamless transition of founders.

How successor willingness and motivation affects founder transitions

In my research, I discovered that successful succession relies on the ability of both the founder and the successor to create a mutual and flowing exchange of energy.

While my focus was primarily on the founder’s willingness to let go, it became evident that the successor’s motivation and willingness also played a significant role in the process.

How the founder’s relationship with the initiative affects the success of a transition

Learning about the relationships between founders and their projects was the most vulnerable and revealing part of my research interviews.

To gain a deeper understanding, I asked founders to describe their connection with their ventures using metaphors. The words and metaphors they chose reflected their level of attachment.

Why choosing a successor must be the founders choice alone

The final theme in my succession research is successor selection, which seemed to be one of the most important determining factors in successful successions.
In cases where the successor naturally emerges, and the decision is clear and effortless, successful transitions are more likely to occur. Founders who know and trust their chosen successors can easily let go of their responsibilities.

Masterclass with Nadja

Watch the recording of my masterclass hosted by Nadja at Conscious U, where I share what my MSc research revealed from a series of interviews with founders and successors about the messy, human side of succession.

You can download the masterclass slides below.

Download the masterclass slides

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