January 8, 2016

Looking Forward by Looking Back

Looking Forward by Looking Back

Happy 2016! I hope you all enjoyed the holidays with your families and loved ones, and that you are looking forward to whatever the New Year brings.

For some of our clients, this will be a year of transition. Marcum works with many family businesses and other privately owned enterprises. 2016 may be the year that some of them pass the reins to the next generation, or sell to their employees, or make room for new management.

Supporting the continued success of your life’s work when it comes time for retirement or divestiture can be trickier than you think. When you’re in the building stage, most people think about the kind of leaders they want to be. But a lot of people don’t stop to consider what kind of former leaders they want to be when it’s time to step aside. Will you support the vision of your successor? Will you stand behind it on the golf course?

Right now in New York City there’s an ugly and very public example of how not to do it. I’m talking about the “escalating tensions” between NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton and the former NYC top cop, Ray Kelly, which has practically become a full-blown war, with Kelly questioning the veracity of the department’s favorably trending crime statistics, and Bratton putting his full weight behind them. If Mayor de Blasio can’t get this under control himself, maybe Ronda Rousey (the mixed martial artist) can break up the fight.

It’s true, of course, that Kelly had nothing to do with Bratton’s selection. Yet, the public melt-down between these two national figures (international, in Kelly’s case) offers a lesson for business owners. Management may have changed, but the rank-and-file has not. The face-off between the department’s present and former leaders has got to be bad for morale. Moreover, there’s no way for us taxpayers – the true stakeholders – to know the truth of the matter. We’ve got two highly credible professionals duking it out at the expense of public confidence in the job the police department is supposedly doing. That’s no way to lead the largest police force in the country.

Leadership succession is a topic that is near and dear to Marcum’s business, in more ways than one. First and foremost, Marcum is privileged to advise our clients about succession planning as an essential component of business planning. We work with many closely held family businesses and entrepreneurial enterprises, as well as established middle-market companies, and helping them develop a roadmap for transitioning to future leadership is mission-critical. We recognize the same need in our own business, of course, and, ensuring that we have gifted leaders managing our service lines and regions is a central focus of Marcum’s continuing expansion into new markets and industry sectors.

Whether this will be a transition year for you, or that milestone is far off in the future, consider your exit to be part of your legacy. Being a model former leader is one of the best ways you can help support the continued success of your life’s work.