Founder cover

There is a five-step process which works for succession planning that I call BATON. It definitely suits a niche entrepreneurship like ours, and could well be customised to meet the requirements of all other enterprises. So I thought of sharing it here with you all.

Baton 1

After two decades of running the country’s pioneering relocation and cross-cultural training company, with offices across India, I thought it was time to take a look back before looking forward. What I consider Act I of my life was getting married and raising a family. Act II was setting up my for-profit entrepreneurship, which helped enhance the success of foreign direct investment in India, by seeing that the expats were settled well in India. What would be Act III, I wondered.

The answer came like a thunderbolt – this time around, it had to be a not-for-profit institution. And the best way forward for me was to set up a Foundation to create an impactful future generation empowered with holistic well-being to achieve excellence in life. But that meant stepping out of the lead role in my enterprise. As I pondered on how to do it, I worked out BATON, a strategy which would help me pass the baton to a new leader in the enterprise I had created, and free me up for my new area of interest.

So, this is how I conceptualized BATON:

B – Build another, different you
A – Arrange for room at the top
T – Transition well
O – Operate as Advisor
N – Nurture networks

Building another, different you

Identifying a successor is about choosing a leader, not a manager. In the past, we had hired C-suite people from overseas and from MNCs, but it hadn’t worked and I always had to come back and take up the reins again. Then a key leader in the organisation suggested a home-grown solution. My daughter had shown interest in the business and also demonstrated the acumen to grow it. Equipped as she was with a global leadership degree from USA, who would have expected that she would want a role in our India-based enterprise? But want it she did! And in her, I found a different me!

With time, an out-going leader can teach the non-negotiable core company culture and values to the successor being groomed, but from my own experience, I realized that it is just as important for the future well-being of the company to recognize that there is also a need to be open to the new ways of thinking, risk taking and managing people that the ‘different you’ brings. It’s not possible to replicate a leadership style. And in fact, such an attempt will be counter-productive. Building a different you is actually energising to the business and to the people. This is what we did. And it worked. Differently from the past, no doubt, but it worked, nonetheless.

Arranging room at the top

Once you have identified a successor, make room at the top by building consensus. The established leadership pool accepting and in fact encouraging the change of guard is a far better way than force-fitting anyone as the new head of an organisation. As it happened in my case, the new leader brought in a fresh perspective and an inclusivity that found an echo in many old-timers. Bulldozing the way in would never have worked. In our case, it was a case of all management team members co-mentoring each other for success.

Transitioning quietly

Once the stage is set for the change of guard, speaking to various departments like Operations, Sales and Finance and ensuring that they stand as the pillars while moving the successor in without too much fanfare is key. And while you’re about it, retread your own tyres to be able to run smoothly into your own next Act. I simply moved out of my office one Monday morning and set up my own open space along with a group of like-minded folks in the Foundation team. And we got on with the pursuit of our goal of enhancing the physical, intellectual, emotional and social intelligence of young women so that they have a headstart on enjoying a successful career and a happy life. Getting busy with this made room for both sides to adjust to the changed workflow.

Operating as Advisor

Baton passing in sports is all about mindful letting go, making sure the incumbent has a firm grip on the crucial piece of wood. In entrepreneurship too, it is important for the outgoing leader to play an advisory role for a while, holding weekly progress meetings and lending an ear to all those who ask for it. The focus should be to ask and answer the right questions. And this holds good for all the leaders in the new team. Focus on the future. Let go of past mistakes. Immovate (Improve on existing models) to suit the current leadership style and status of the business.

Nurturing networks

Relationships built over decades of service, is an institution’s real wealth. The contacts and connections made both internally and externally are crucial. A systematic way to pass on these networks and to make room for new connections is a gradual process and must be handled with discipline and sensitivity. Once the process is started, it will progress gradually. Allowing it to gather its own momentum is key to success.

I thank all our stakeholders, readers of our magazines, clients, vendors, work family and government/industrial leaders in advance for the good wishes, which will guide Rohini Manian who now holds the baton of Global Adjustments safely in her hands as the new CEO, along with a committed team of efficient admirals.

And as she does well, I will go and do good!

Ranjini Manian

  • Greta Rask

    What inspiring news Ranjini! And I love the BATON description of transitioning gracefully – such an important skill. I have such fond memories of Rohini and I am so happy that she has chosen to take this wonderful company to it’s next level. And I believe I’ve already gotten a taste of some of the things you are contributing with to the world in your new capacity. Thank you so much Ranjini for all you and GA contributed with, helping us make our years in India so special for us. And for supporting our young girls in their transition to adulthood. Please forward our best wishes to Rohini. And best wishes to you too!/Greta and family

    • Yashwant Daniel

      Greta, my journey of welcoming IKEA started with your family when Goran brought you 18 years ago, such fond memories thankyou. Today’s india is abuzz about IKEA. Glad we have you as Swedish family. Maya and Meera will always have india in their hearts too, your girls are global citizens.

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