The Accountability Chart™ and Succession in Family Businesses

Family of 4 sitting on front steps

Imagine this …

You’re a second-generation owner of a family business. When your first son is born, everyone celebrates the next-generation leader’s arrival. For your son’s entire childhood, people keep talking about how someday he will run the business, just like you and your father before you.

In the meantime, he doesn’t seem particularly interested in the business, but your second child loves it. She wants to come to the office with you on Saturdays. She asks questions about the business at the dinner table. She knows the names of most of the crew. She decides it would be fun to take business classes in high school. You start to think she would be great at running the business and your son would be a lot happier being a teacher.

How in the world are you going to explain this to your parents? To the community? To him?

This is a real scenario I saw firsthand, and the Accountability Chart was a powerful tool that helped this second-generation dad manage his fears and concerns about the next generation of the family business.

 New Call-to-action

This family business had a three-person leadership team that included the second-generation owner, his wife, and one other person who ran operations. Together (despite the fact that it didn’t feel natural to them) they built an Accountability Chart for the future of the business. They separated their skills and abilities from what they built. They also separated the skills and abilities of the next-generation family members and simply decided what the business needed. This was hard. It took them several hours and a few time-outs.

When they were done, they realized two hard but important things:

  1.  The role they needed in finance was much bigger than the interest or capability of the wife.
  2. Neither of the next-generation kids was ready to lead the business despite the fact that the owner wanted to retire.

They ended up elevating the non-family member to run the business. The mom was actually thrilled to stop being so stressed out about her role, and they hired someone part-time to do the higher-level finance work. They started developing the daughter to work her way into the Integrator™ role, and their son became a teacher.

Now the daughter has learned to run operations, the dad is a very part-time Visionary, and the son works for them in the summer doing work he has always enjoyed and makes a little extra money when he isn’t teaching.

Please don’t think this was easy. It took five years from the first session for the second-generation owner to get a clear story to tell when people asked why his son is a teacher and not running the business. His wife enjoys her job a lot more and his daughter is thriving. His golf game isn’t bad these days, either.

New call-to-action

Related Posts

Three Levels to Achieve Focused Leadership

Years ago, during a dinner party, both Bill Gates and Warren Buffet said that focus helped them accomplish their achievements. When the leaders of the organization focus on leading, the business thrives. But achieving focus doesn’t just happen; you have to work through three levels to achieve focused leadership.

Read on »

Clear Signs Guiding Your Destination

On a recent trip to summit Grays Peak in Colorado, I learned a valuable lesson about clarity. It served as a reminder of the importance of clear signs guiding your destination, whether hiking or in business.

Read on »

When the Wrong People Stay, the Right People Leave

My heart broke for a family business recently. I tell their story hoping that it will inspire you to make tough decisions about family members in your business. This family learned the hard way that when the wrong people stay, the right people leave.

Read on »

Subscribe to the EOS Blog

EOS Worldwide

Subscribe to the EOS Blog:


Base Camp


Client Portal



Search the EOS Worldwide Blog

Generic filters