THE LEADERSHIP SERIES
How to Build a Succession Plan
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HOUSTON-Given the spate of high-profile, C-Suite turnovers the industry has seen in recent months, it would appear that succession planning is still a cutting-edge thought. While larger firms are starting to pick up on the need, there is still a vestigial go-it-alone cowboy mentality that threatens continuity.
“There’s a lot of truth in that,” Transwestern CEO Larry Heard tells GlobeSt.com. “Commercial real estate, just like the oil and gas industry, has leadership made up of people who are bold, innovative, risk takers. They also tend to see themselves as invincible. But as companies get larger it’s more realistic to recognize that there are a lot of people depending on you for discernment and strategic planning. You can’t leave succession to chance. You need to strategize on that as proactively as you would an important client relationship.”
The executive committee of Transwestern has done just that, and though Heard’s successor is not a name he shares, that person is in place. What the CEO did share were the traits he looks for, and he also enumerated the things other firms need to consider when crafting their own plans.
Heard said there are five key traits he looks for. The ideal candidates must be a self-confident team players. Yet they have to be independent thinkers in addition to being “excellent communicators.”
These four traits, while prized, are nothing out of the ordinary. But the fifth is a surprise. “They have to be servant leaders,” says Heard. “Leadership must be able to build a dynamic following. Those who have a true, committed followings are servant leaders who put the company and other individuals ahead of their own personal agendas.
"People see that and respect it," he says, "and that’s what enables the very best leaders to be so powerful; they can mobilize an entire organization.” He counts himself fortunate to have senior people who are long-tenured at Transwestern and possess those qualities.
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