Where can I/we get ideas to help me/us keep my/our business customer-centric?


Does the existing leadership drive the business?

Do the leaders of the business generate enthusiasm and passion?

Are there emerging leaders other than the formal leadership?

How well do our people work together as a team?

Do all team members appreciate and respect each other?

Does the reward system promote teamwork or rivalry, i.e. is building the pie, or getting a bigger personal share, the focus?

How innovative is our business in terms of new products, customer service and process improvement?

Do new ideas and suggestions come from every level of the business?

Are all team members encouraged to make decisions, accept responsibility, and be accountable?

Do team members clearly understand their level of authority?

Do all team members understand the key attributes to maximising customer service?

Is it enjoyable working for our business; are there celebrations for birthdays, major business events, key wins and other positive events?

Culture overview

Does the reward system promote teamwork or rivalry, i.e. is building the pie, or getting a bigger personal share, the focus?

This is a management succession issue. Leaders come from all parts of the business yet many small businesses have never thought about who will take over when the current owners are ready to step down. By identifying future leaders in the business, coaching them and empowering them to take responsibility as appropriate, people are given the confidence to step up when the time is right. This is not an overnight process and should be a continuing program.

TIME TO COMPLETE: 2-5 days depending on their circumstances.


Step 1 - Find ideal candidates for future leadership and provide them with a mentor

Discuss the issue of succession planning. Identify high-performing team members who might be suited for future leadership roles in the business. This is particularly important at potential ownership level or managerial level but leaders can be found at all levels.

All potential leaders should be mentored. Consider mentors from outside the business. The present owners may not have enough time to do this effectively for all candidates. Also, candidates themselves may feel uncomfortable being mentored by the owner. Consider using trusted, experienced outsiders, e.g. a former manager who is now retired, or a well-known and respected independent figure from the industry locally.

Step 2 - Give the selected team members more responsibility

Ascertain what tasks can be delegated to the team members identified for mentoring. Give them authority to take responsibility and make decisions within clear delegation guidelines. Involve them in discussions and decision-making. Develop trust in the employees and do not micromanage. Use mistakes as a key learning tool - how they learn lessons and modify future behaviour is a critical component of assessing leadership capability.

Step 3 - Ensure that the personal goals of team members coincide with the business needs

Where team members have been identified for future leadership roles, work to ensure that they actually aspire to management or leadership. Help people make the adjustment - it can be a scary step up. Remember that this is a long-term process and do not expect overnight results.

Step 4 - Put challenging personal development plans in place for the emerging leaders

Agree on targets and responsibilities that will stretch the individuals. Provide them with the resources they need (training, on-the-job coaching, mentoring) to help them succeed.

Consider the particular areas of leadership each trainee needs to develop such as:

  • Business development and closing sales
  • People management including motivation and evaluation
  • Business management, e.g. cash control, reporting, planning
  • Communication skills
  • Vision and innovation

The identification of potential future leaders, with personal development plans tied in with leadership goals, and the person. Include timing and regular evaluation points.


Empower and trust team members.

Allow team members to learn from their mistakes.

Be clear and consistent in your message.

Show sincerity in wanting to empower emerging leaders.

Be respectful of each individual's style of leadership.

Provide the necessary support to help people achieve their development plans.

Consider using trusted, respected outsiders as mentors.


Micromanage team members.

Criticise team members, but give them constructive feedback.