We’re busy planning the Atticus® Exit Strategy Workshop coming up on December 8th. Year after year, one of the most common questions from participants in the workshop concerns how to identify associates who have the potential to become successors. Let’s face it, it’s hard enough to hire a good associate, let alone one who has the character to become a partner and then a successor 5, 10 or 20 years down the road.
To help answer this question, let me share with you the nine characteristics of associates whom we believe will make good partners and eventually great successors:
1. Leadership skills: the ability to think strategically and act intelligently in light of the goals of the firm or department they are taking over.
2. Production: a capacity for high levels of individual production.
3. Origination: the ability to originate new business, maintain existing referral relationships and successfully manage transferred relationships. Comfort in social situations.
4. Loyalty: an associate or partner must be loyal enough to stay with the firm and make it through the ramp up period until they become a partner and finally a successor. In some firms, the partner track takes 10 years from new associate to partner.
5. The ability to make a capital investment: whether this is through a series of payments made as a buy-in, or through a withholding program.
6. Management skills: the ability to manage the team or department they are inheriting.
7. The ability to delegate: if a partner or successor doesn’t understand the leveraging power of delegation, they won’t be profitable and the firm won’t thrive.
8. The ability to juggle: the successor will need to be able to manage multiple responsibilities .
9. Adherence to a high ethical standard.