The Independent Advisor's
Succession Plan

6 Options to Try When You Choose the Wrong Successor


Making the decision to leave your business to someone else is not an easy one. Where many elect to close a business completely, others have family who can take it over. And others have far too many valuable employees who depend on the financial success of the business and they feel obligated to keep the business operating. Whatever your reason may be for keeping your business going after you leave, advisorRETIRE™ has a comprehensive succession planning business team who can help navigate the complicated path to selecting an accomplished successor.

In this post, we’re going to explore the steps that can be taken in the unfortunate circumstance that the wrong successor has been chosen to take your place. Whether you’re reading this because you didn’t plan ahead well enough, or because despite your best efforts, your chosen candidate turned out to be a failure, we have a list of possible actions to consider.

Determine Leadership Differences

You might find, as you’re training your replacement, that this person is making terrible decisions and causing a lot of unhappiness. Before you charge in with a pink slip, take a moment to reflect honestly. This is an emotional time for you as it is, you’re making a massive life change. You might be confusing your unhappiness with your organization’s unhappiness. Some resistance to change is natural, and there is surely going to be some adjustment to your replacement’s leadership style. But is his/her style detrimental to the company as a whole? Or is that different leadership style just not your style, and therefore, hard for you to come to terms with?

Next, take a look at changes and choices your replacement is making, and decide if they’re going to lead the company to ruin or if these are simply not the decisions you would make. It’s not uncommon for a hint of envy to make its way into this transition and objectivity can be difficult. You might find that getting an objective set of eyes on the situation is helpful.

Now, if you have determined without a doubt that your instincts are correct and your company is going to be in trouble once you leave, you need to consult with trusted leaders within the organization. The last thing you want is for the employees who depend on the health of the company to be unhappy or to have to look for new employment.

Further Leadership/Management Training

Many of us in the business world have heard that people don’t quit jobs, but they do quit bosses. Leadership, or the lack thereof, is a top reason people leave good organizations. If a company wants to reduce turnover, promote from within, and have an overall strong business structure, leadership and empowerment are crucial. And they start at the top.

When you’ve stepped back and objectively determined, either on your own or with the help of others, that your replacement is still a good candidate but needs further training to boost skills that might not be up to par, it is time to invest in training. Scope out workshops, retreats, and consulting firms for opportunities for growth. Even better, bring a coach to your company to give everybody inside your organization a much-needed boost. This not only enhances the skills of an organization systematically but also puts everybody on the same page, bringing in the same leadership style and methods.

If your replacement is resistant to this change, it’s perhaps time to consider resuming your search. But before that happens, consider a few of the steps below.


A difference of opinion can make the work environment difficult, to say the least. Despite efforts to conceal the butting of heads behind closed doors, employees will notice. When all efforts have failed to come to a peaceful resolution, a mediator is a great way to implement a smoother succession process.

Professional mediators can save tens, and even hundreds, of thousands in potential legal costs if things turn really ugly, and they are a valuable asset to smoothing any bumps in the road when a successor turns out to not be a great fit.

Hire a Succession Planner

Arming yourself with the knowledge of experts from the get-go is the best way to start out. You wouldn’t go on a trip into an unknown territory without a map, and when it comes to something as important as the business and people you’re leaving behind, you shouldn’t forge ahead without a clear path. There are so many steps in the process, so many unknowns, and a host of things that could go wrong.

advisorRETIRE™ can help with this process and has a full team of experts to help the succession planning process go through smoothly. Contact us to learn more about how we can help!

Do Nothing

In some cases, you might have to walk away. You might be contractually obligated to leave, or you might be forced out somehow. The choice isn’t yours to leave, and you have no choice but to provide the best training to your successor before you go and hope for the best.

Or you might be in a position where your health and age have reached a point where you have no choice but to leave the company in the hands of your successor. This is unfortunate and will leave you feeling powerless, especially where your former employees are involved. However, for the sake of your health, don’t allow your health and happiness to take a backseat to the needs of the company you’re leaving behind.

There comes a time where every leader must pass on the keys to the castle, so to speak, and allow his/her successor to take over.

Come Back

There are many well-known cases where CEOs have left to retire or pursue other interests, only to return when his/her successor underperformed. This has become more and more common in recent years especially. Rather than watch the company go under, he/she returned to fix the issues that cropped up, then had to work harder than ever. Not only that, more eyes were on the company than ever as the search for a new replacement got underway. No company wants to find itself in this position, which can be reputation-damaging.

advisorRETIRE™ offers the full spectrum of succession planning services and can help you make a seamless transition. Sign up with us today so that one of our advisors can work with you!

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