“Grow or spawn your own competition.’ At the first management workshop I attended, this was the instructor’s mantra. About every hour or two, over the three days, he repeated it: “Grow or spawn your own competition.”
To me that meant: “Show your employees opportunities to grow within your firm or they will move on – maybe to open up their own competing business down the street or join your competitor.’ It was then that I realized that I wanted to build a strong organization in which the key people could see ‘a future.’
I was already active in several community organizations. I understood how organizations worked and discovered that I worked well with people. And being involved gave me great personal satisfaction.
It was then that organizations and people became my primary interest – what I wanted to do with my life. This became my life focus that replaced the technical aspect of engineering in which I had been trained. Working in my dad’s consulting engineering firm, I made it my goal to create a new organization, assembling a team of people who had a combination of technical competence and management potential to lead the company and grow it – building their personal futures as the company grew.
(I even found that my interest in ‘Organizations and People’ could be applied to sailboat racing, too. I spent my spare time organizing and leading a crew that campaigned our boat around Lake Ontario. My vocation and avocation were merged into a single quest.)
Over time, the company (WENDEL – now the Wendel Companies) grew from a small local firm with limited capabilities to become the largest locally owned firm in the Buffalo-Niagara region offering a full range of engineering services. Several of those people that I had hired became partners and are now the leaders.
During those fifteen plus years, the firm went through two ownership transitions: my dad to me and me to my partners. Ultimately, I sold my ownership to my partners (a totally internal transfer) to begin the ‘third phase’ of my life. The Peter Wendel Group (now Life-Work-Transitions) was born!
Since 1990, the Life-Work-Transitions has been my primary focus. Starting in the late 1980s, while I was still with Wendel, I began to prepare for my new profession. (My phase became, “I want to have boat to step into when I walk of the dock!”). I took an array of organizational and personal development courses to expand my skills and develop new proficiencies. Strategic planning, team building, organizational development and personal coaching became my primary services.
Recently I have refined my focus. Two sets of new business and personal needs have merged!
Leaders of many businesses are approaching retirement and companies have not fully developed their ‘next generation’ of leaders. Over the next years they will face a leadership deficit unless they develop a new tier of “Next Generation’ leaders prepared to lead their companies into the future. This deficit, if not addressed, could spell the end of the company.
Those who are will be retiring will be entering what I call ‘The Next Phase‘of their lives – a period that can last ten to thirty years. Many are not prepared. They haven’t ‘built their boat.’ They don’t have a transition strategy. They haven’t built a leadership – and ownership – team to succeed them. Those who start planning now will be better prepared.
Life-Work-Transitions offers help in both areas: helping business owners make their transition into their “next phase” and building the next generation of leaders.
I combine my training, my personal experience (in leadership transfer and preparing for ‘the next phase’) with my understanding of organizations and people to guide my clients as they prepare for their changing future.
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