We are in week six of this seven week emphasis--using this space to give voice to what it took to run Design Group International for more than 20 years. These posts match to my remaining weeks as the former CEO, and Chair of the Design Group International Partnership, and as the company Founder. From here, I'm moving to advisory status with a lot of growing work ahead of me as an Executive Advisorpodcaster, and facilitator for Maestro-level leaders

These posts hope for a two-fold benefit: a repository for successors, as well as an inspiration to you the reader should you be facing your exit or are stepping in as a successor.

Let's turn our focus to the importance of a predecessor getting off the track after handing off the baton. This metaphor has a lot of merits and offers a striking image.

You might notice how we subtly included it in the logo for the Third Turn Podcast.

 Meet Your Hosts

 Do you see that thin pencil line connecting to the "play" icon? Think of that line as the track. The icon represents the starting line and exit. We take our lap, and then we get off the track so the race can continue.

 The Three Turns of Executive Leadership embeds in this image also.

  • Turn One  - Learning to lead self. The first 10-15 years of an executive leader's career. Getting started and up to one's full speed.
  • Turn Two - Learning to lead others in an organization. The middle twenty years of an executive leader's career. Maintaining one's speed in the backstretch and into the turn, where one prepares to lean into the handoff.
  • Turn Three -- Learning to lead toward future value, succession, and legacy. The last 5-10 years of an executive leader's career. Handing the baton mid-stride to strengthen the successor's acceleration into the future. 

Learning propels us around the track and helps us complete all three turns. Learning provides momentum into a clean handoff. And once handed off, their momentum needs to carry the predecessor runner off the track so as not to impede anyone else. The predecessor's cheering for successor runners comes from beside the track rather than on it.

There are no repeat circuits in this race. Whether predecessors or successors, we get this one crack at something we've yet to do. Not here, certainly! And not with this specific team of people. Our learning helps us avoid misjudgments in the first place. And when we do make our inevitable mistakes, our learning and adaptation bounce us back, further ahead, and quickly. In answering the question of how we ran our business across its years, our answer is: we were open to learning. We still are!

And one other note. Have you noticed that we lead the way when we start our lap? And then, as we end that lap, we come in behind the successive runner, following them until they grab the baton. Until that moment, even handing off the baton from behind the successor, we still lead because we hold that wand and slap it into their hand as they grab it blindly and trustingly.  

What other succession insights come to you as you consider this image?

-mark l vincent

Mark L. Vincent
Post by Mark L. Vincent
January 5, 2023
I walk alongside leaders, listening to understand their challenges, and helping them lead healthy organizations that flourish.