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Elevating Leadership for Strategic Growth, Business Succession, and Family Business Success

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” – Peter Drucker

Inside This Article:

  • Operational Strains and Growth Stagnation: Signs that it’s time for strategic planning and bringing in top-tier talent.
  • The Real Costs of Not Investing: The impact of inadequate leadership on family businesses and long-term shareholder value.
  • Investment in Talent as a Strategic Move: Viewing talent acquisition as essential to business succession planning.
  • Leveraging Advisory Boards for Strategic Decisions: How an advisory board can provide crucial insights for hiring and strategic planning.

Recognising the Right Time for Leadership Investment

In family businesses and private firms, pinpointing when to elevate the leadership team is a pivotal aspect of strategic growth. This decision often hinges on recognising the crucial balance between operational involvement and strategic leadership. A common scenario is where a business owner, deeply engrossed in daily operations, misses opportunities for expansion or innovation. This tendency, while understandable, can lead to growth stagnation and hamper effective business succession planning.

Case Study: Operational Overload in a Family Business

Consider a family-owned manufacturing firm where the second-generation owner handles both strategic decisions and day-to-day operations. While this hands-on approach initially drove success, as the business grew, this dual role became unsustainable. The owner’s inability to delegate and focus on long-term strategic planning led to missed opportunities and employee dissatisfaction.

The Misstep of Diving Back Into Operational Roles

Business owners, especially in family-run enterprises, often find comfort in their operational expertise. However, this can lead to a detrimental cycle where strategic leadership takes a backseat. For instance, when a business owner starts micromanaging a department instead of empowering a manager, it not only stifles the manager’s potential but also detracts from the owner’s ability to focus on future growth and succession strategies.

From Operational Leader to Strategic Visionary

Transitioning from an operational role to a strategic visionary is not a straightforward process. It requires a mindset shift and often, the support of an advisory board. Such a board can provide an outside perspective, helping the owner see the bigger picture and understand the importance of strategic leadership in achieving long-term goals.

The Penny Wise, Pound Foolish Approach

In one instance, a rapidly growing tech startup needed a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to manage its expanding team and complex projects. However, the founder, focused on immediate cost savings, delayed this crucial hire. This decision cost the company significantly in terms of delayed product launches and lost market opportunities.

Expanding the Team: When and How

Identifying the right time to bring in new leadership talent is critical. Signs include:

  • Operational Overload: When daily management tasks overwhelm strategic thinking.
  • Growth Plateaus: When the business stops growing despite market opportunities.
  • Complexity in Operations: As the business grows, so does the complexity of its operations, often requiring specialised leadership skills.
  • Employee Feedback: When team members consistently highlight leadership gaps or express the need for clearer direction.
  • Employee Turnover: High turnover can be a symptom of leadership deficiencies.
  • Market Comparisons: Analysing competitors can offer insights into necessary leadership roles.
  • Visionary Needs: If a company’s long-term vision requires expertise not currently present, proactive talent acquisition is key.
  • Personal Fulfillment: Leaders should assess whether their current role aligns with their personal goals and satisfaction.

The Role of Advisory Boards in Talent Strategy

Advisory boards play a crucial role in guiding talent decisions:

  1. Objective Perspective: They offer a fresh, unbiased view on the company’s leadership needs.
  2. Networking and Recommendations: Members can leverage their connections to recommend suitable candidates.
  3. Risk Mitigation: They help in vetting candidates to ensure alignment with company culture and strategic goals.
  4. Strategy Alignment: They ensure that talent decisions align with the company’s broader strategic objectives.
  5. Confidence in Decision Making: Their endorsement can provide the necessary confidence for making significant hiring decisions.
  6. Structured Approach: They encourage a focus on long-term planning and strategic decision-making.

Incorporating Strategic Planning Workshops

Strategic planning workshops, facilitated by or with the input of an advisory board, can be instrumental in shaping the future leadership structure of a business. These workshops offer a structured environment to evaluate the current state of the business, identify gaps in leadership, and develop a roadmap for talent acquisition and development.


In the dynamic world of family businesses and private firms, recognizing when to expand the leadership team is crucial for sustainable growth and effective business succession. Advisory boards serve as a vital resource in these decisions, helping to view talent acquisition as a strategic investment essential to the future of the company. The cost of not embracing this perspective can be significant, not just in terms of lost opportunities but also in diminished shareholder value and hindered business succession.

Call to Action: Are you ready to elevate your leadership team and drive strategic growth? At Board Associates, we specialise in guiding family businesses and private firms through the complexities of strategic planning, business succession, and leadership development. Connect with us to learn how our expertise and advisory boards can help transform your business for lasting success. Contact us to start your journey towards transformative leadership and sustainable growth.