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Every Leader is an Interim Leader

Every Leader is an Interim Leader

January 31, 2024

Every leader is an interim leader. You either leave when everyone wants you to leave or when no one wants you to leave.

Every leader is an interim leader. You either leave when everyone wants you to leave or when no one wants you to leave. I’ve been a college football fan since I was a little kid. Like most kids, I wanted to grow up and become the next champion quarterback. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the size or talent to play in college or the pros. But I still maintain my passion for the sport. Early on, I only cared about professional football (NFL) back in the days when Joe Namath helped the NY Jets with the Super Bowl and then the Miami Dolphins, who had the only “Perfect Season” in the history of the NFL in 1972. I really wasn’t aware of college football until I was about 12 years old, but in 1973, the Alabama Crimson Tide won the college football national championship under the leadership of legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. From that time on, through the good, the bad, and the ugly years, the Alabama Crimson Tide was my team.

Leadership is the Difference

The last 17 years have been a great run for those of us who are Alabama fans due to the leadership of another legendary Coach Nick Saban. Under his leadership, Alabama has an incredible 206 Wins and only 29 Losses: a winning percentage of 87.7% and garnering 6 National Championships, to boot!

This past week, Nick Saban announced his Retirement. This made me think: Every leader is an interim leader. You either leave when everyone wants you to leave or when no one wants you to leave. When we recognize our positions as temporary, we are not territorial about the position God has us in and desire to serve for as long as we can be effective.

An Influential Legacy

Nick is retiring with a great Legacy. He has influenced the lives of hundreds of young athletes, many of whom now play professional football and are leaders in their own right. He’s also influenced the current and next generation of football coaches (coaches like Kirby Smart, “Dabo” Swinney, Lane Kiffin, and numerous others).

A Purposeful Legacy

Although Nick is known for the Legacy of influence he had on the football field; he is also “retiring with a purpose.” Nick has stated that he’s not finished; he’s just transitioning to “what’s next.” What’s next for Nick Saban?

    • Spending Time with his Family (wife Terry, children, and grandchildren). The legacy of time with his family and “Family Legacy” is part of his purpose in this next season of life.

    • He also has several business and entrepreneurial ventures that he’s involved in and has a passion for (he still has a vision and a purpose, even at age 72!).

Finishing Well

Nick’s “Retirement” and Legacy caused me to think about you! What about YOUR Legacy? You see, every leader is an interim leader. You either leave when everyone wants you to leave or when no one wants you to leave. As an Author and thought leader in the area of business succession, exit, and transition planning, I’ve seen people finish well, exit, and transition well, and I’ve seen huge failures in this area, as well. Families were torn apart, businesses and wealth destroyed, and reputations that took a lifetime to build were destroyed. As a Christian business owner, CEO, or leader, this takes on even greater importance because it’s a matter of Stewardship! Here are some things to think about:

Stewardship vs Ownership

    • God is the real Owner of our business (and everything else!).

    • We, as Christian business leaders are really God’s “stewards” (managers entrusted to wisely lead and manage on behalf of the “Owner”!).

    • Since all of us are merely “Interim Leaders”, we need to have a well-thought-out succession plan (and transition plan). We need to exit “gracefully” & “purposefully” as Coach Saban did!

    • Yet, the majority of business owners do NOT have a well-thought-out, written business succession plan! That’s why over 70% of family-owned businesses FAIL when they transition to the next Generation! That is NOT wise stewardship!

    • For many of us, our business is a “Platform for Ministry.” We are intentional about using our business to impact the lives of our employees, clients, customers or patients, our vendors, and, by extension, their families. Our potential reach and impact are quite incredible! But it’s also a “Stewardship” responsibility. IF we don’t “finish well” and do “succession” well, our business (and the wealth it helped create) can be lost.

So, how do we transition our businesses well? Here are some key principles:

    • Finish faithfully (with integrity). Finish well and finish strong.

    • Create well-thought-out business continuity and business succession plans (more on that below).

    • Retire (or transition) TO something, not just FROM something! Transition with a purpose and a passion for “what’s next”; the “next things” that God is wanting you to prioritize and invest your time and energy into. Think deeply about “what’s next” and create a purposeful “retirement”! (For many, this could actually be the most productive and impactful season of our lives!).

Choosing the Next Generation of Stewards

Here are some questions I learned from my friend and mentor, Ron Blue.

    • Have you chosen the next generation of Stewards?
    • Are they fully prepared for that Stewardship (and Leadership) responsibility?

I’ll add another question of my own:

What do you need to do to help prepare and equip your Successors to be wise stewards and leaders? (As the “current” Steward/Leader, it is your responsibility to wisely plan your succession and to prepare the “next generation” of stewards!).

Designing a Well-Thought-Out Succession and Transition Plan

As I mentioned above, most business owners (really, we’re stewards) don’t have a well-thought-out Succession and Transition Plan. If that’s you and you want to “finish well,” here are some resources you might find helpful:

    • A free eBook I wrote entitled Stewardship of your Business Legacy: Wisely Stewarding the Largest Financial Transaction of your Life…Without getting Killed with Taxes! 

    • A book I wrote, published by ForbesBooks, entitled Create a Thriving Family Legacy—How to Share your Wisdom & Wealth with Your Children & Grandchildren 

If you want personal guidance and counsel in creating a well-thought-out Business Succession and Family Legacy Plan, give us a call or send us an email to schedule a free Zoom conversation to explore.

You see, we will all leave a Legacy:

Good or Bad
Intentional or Unintentional
Wise…or Foolish
And remember, “Hope is NOT a Plan”!