Harpreet asked:

Our company is going through a power shift where power is being transferred from the owner/founder of our company to our CEO and other top leaders. The owner’s inability to let go is creating problems – how do we start a conversation/solve this issue?

Barbara Baill, Senior Leadership Consultant responded:

This is often a challenging transition for any founder-lead organization. A lot of “the right answer” is situational. Is the founder being forced out by the board or is this a voluntary transition? Has the owner’s future role, if any, been defined?

You seem to imply that founder/owner will continue to remain involved in the company. Someone will need to start the conversation with the owner. Identify a trusted advisor or coach the CEO to take on the role of advisor himself. Let the owner describe their vision for what a successful transition looks like. The owner obviously has invested a lot into building this organization up to this point. If they will have a role after the transition is complete, it has to be clearly defined. It is important to honor their knowledge, experience and contributions, and define how they can continue to be informed and valued in their new role.

The CEO and his team will need to be patient and respectful yet clear in the communication of what the business needs are for the owner in this next phase of the company’s development. As in any difficult conversation, the CEO will need to listen and be empathetic of the founder’s perspective as well as be willing to have a compassionately honest conversation about what is critical for the business now.

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