The shift from MD to Chairman

 Profile image of Corine Hines From Spring Leadership

Corine Hines

Back in 2010, when I was just starting my coaching journey, I began seeing how powerful the process was for individuals. I’ve worked with all types of leaders and managers, from underrated heads of finance and recently recruited high potentials, to directors that were heading for burn out.  Watching them grow, develop better habits and improve their relationships, was incredible. But I was itching to have more impact on the wider business.

Personal transformations are amazing – but I knew that high performing teams aren’t created because one person transforms themselves.

Over the years we’ve developed an approach that helps individuals and teams make huge leaps forward – transformations that set them up for future success, which make a significant difference to them personally and to the bottom line.

Our techniques change businesses for the better. And it’s an absolute privilege to be involved.

2 years ago Steve decided enough was enough.

His bonsai trees needed attention, he wanted to climb more, and frankly, if Covid taught us anything, it’s that life is too short. So we planned how he could shift from hands-on MD to behind the scenes Chairman.

We’re 2 years into the plan.

So, how did it work out? Am I successfully running the show?

And importantly, what did we learn that will be useful to you?

The good news is the bonsai tress are looking superb and the climbing gym think Steve’s moved in. And we’ve had one of our best year’s yet in the business.

Here are our top 5 lessons learned.

Create a dashboard

Steve keeping his finger on the pulse of the business became harder when he wasn’t doing the finances or talking to clients. So I created a dashboard of measures that would enable him to be reassured all was well – but also allow him to challenge and support me in equal measure.

⭐️ Make sure your dashboard is easy to update and not over complicated. You don’t want to  be micromanaging from afar. I’m talking about the ability to see red, amber, green on key measures that will allow you to spot problems.

Work on yourself

We did loads of financial scenarios. But it all happened quicker than we anticipated which left a lag before Steve’s other plans kicked in. We imagined he’d be juggling things for a lot longer. This was a nice problem to have but you might find you haven’t done enough thinking about your transition.

⭐️ Make sure you’ve worked on yourself. If you’re really hands-on right now it might be quite a challenge to shift into another role. The danger is you hang on when you’re not needed which could undermine your successors.

Set boundaries

This subject has been very real for us for years. When you’re married  and running a business together, chatting about work over the dinner table can become oppressive. But it can be the same if someone is stepping into your shoes. Dipping in and out because you want them to benefit from your experience will disempower and discourage different ways of working.

⭐️ Agree meetings that are fit for purpose. We have a weekly catch up and a monthly strategy meeting

Keep communicating

It’s easy to make assumptions. What did it mean to be chairman instead of MD? What did Steve need to be cc’d on and what decision did he still need to contribute towards?  We sometimes had different ideas in our head and communicating regularly became more important than ever.

And most importantly:

Be kind to yourself.

If you’re making a transition, there will be a period of experimentation and adjustment. You will be grappling with new ways of working (or not working!) and you may start delving into questions of meaning and purpose.

It can be difficult to see the wood for the trees when you’re running the show, a second pair of eyes, a guiding hand or an outside viewpoint could make all the difference and prove there’s another way.