The challenge of succession
The process of succession is always challenging. In families, the imminent death of the parents can cast a shadow over family dynamics and strongly affect relationships. Shakespeare’s tragedy King Lear provides an extreme example of how unmet expectations, greed and ambition can precipitate the disintegration of a family. The painful feelings connected with ending and death, the difficulty of letting go of power and authority, and the greed and desire to take the ‘father’s place’ can mobilize disruptive dynamics, preventing the possibility of a more thoughtful and meaningful transition. The consultancy started at a time of significant generational change, with the succession from the older generation to a younger and new senior team. The challenge was to develop the senior team into a ‘leadership team’ – a team able to share with each other and to confront each other, as well as being capable of providing a cohesive environment for the whole organization.