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Champion Leadership Blog

A Depth Chart is Key to Long-Term Small Business Success

After a few months off from this blog due to a heavy speaking travel schedule and fall campaign, I’m getting back on the wagon, thanks to a colleague who told me last week about one of his clients.

He is the owner/CEO of a small business with 50 employees, who was hoping to develop an exit strategy so he could retire.

The challenge he was concerned with was there was no one in the firm ready and capable to step up to fill the role.

He had no “depth chart.”

Coaches and general managers of sports teams at any formal competitive level always keep their eye on their “depth chart.”

As athletes age their skills diminish and their effectiveness fades and championship caliber teams always have someone ready to step up (see photo, this is the 1969 NY Mets depth chart taken from annual yearbook, a photo I remembered from many years ago that I pulled from my archives).


The NY Mets 1969 depth chart chalkboard outlining the “succession plan” for its future.

Small business leaders desirous of company perpetuation need to invest time, energy and resources developing their firm’s depth chart.

Few small business owners do this well.

Most small businesses may think about it before they’re ready to move on, but few act on it early enough.

Of course, a depth chart is important beyond just company perpetuation in the event of exit strategy execution by the company owner or CEO.

It’s important for the smooth transition of any key employee who is going to be evolving through their business career cycle or personal life cycle.

Sports teams do this extremely well.

Small businesses, not so much.

This is because nurturing depth at the senior levels of a small business requires greater transparency in key business components, such as company strategy and financials.

Championship caliber teams consistently work to develop their depth chart so talent is ready to step in when the opportunity arises.

Championship caliber companies do the same.

This takes a business owner who is willing to communicate in a way that is more transparent and more vulnerable than most.

It is this level of communication that will set a small business up for long-term success and provide the ability to perpetuate the company and build a legacy that will last.

So, what does your company’s depth chart look like and who’s ready to step up into key roles should they arise tomorrow?

‘til next time, remember, Communicate With Power!

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