Monday, December 15, 2014

The Role of the Advisor in Succession

Noting that until now, despite the wealth of literature on succession, we have had a limited and narrow understanding of how successors develop and establish their leadership skills within the complex web of a family firm, and that leadership development and the construction of a leadership profile is a complex process, authors Salvato and Corbetta have taken a close look at how advisors affect the process through which successors develop their own leadership profile.

                  In the 2013 article, Transitional Leadership of Advisors as a Facilitator of Successor’s Leadership Construction from Family Business Review, the authors find that advisors offer a significant contribution to the development of a successor’s leadership by taking on a transitional leadership role which includes shared leadership involving the incumbent leader, the successor, and the advisor.

                  This role:
1.     Supports the successor in his or her individual internalization of leadership skills
2.     Provides relational recognition to the successors’ leadership
3.     Facilitates the collective endorsement of the successor’s leadership by members of the controlling family and by nonfamily employees.

The study follows four cases in which the role of the advisor and his/her relationship to the
successor and other family members is closely examined, and determines the ways in which the advisor supports, affirms, questions, and evolves throughout the process of a successor’s leadership transition, and subsequently how the advisor takes on a role of “temporary shared leadership,” a new concept in family enterprise research.

The article includes several insights into the unique nature of the advisor’s relationship in a family firm and both the defined and undefined ways in which the advisor role can play a part in generational succession and the process of leadership development. The details of the study are interesting and highly relevant for advisors who work closely with family firms, particularly during times of transition.

For those interested in finding out more details about the methods used to measure and track the advisors’ involvement in these succession transitions, the article can be found at:, from the Family Business Review September 2013 vol. 26 no. 3, pages 235-255.


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