Jan 27, 2020
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Succession Planning Books to Read

Dive into these books for succession planning inspiration

Don’t let another week pass without making your family’s succession plan a priority. Regardless of where you are in this process, books are a great tool to focus your thoughts, identify new ideas and put you in the mindset to move forward with your plan.

"No single professional can provide all of the answers a family needs to achieve their legacy goals," explains Kevin Spafford, Farm Journal succession planning expert. "Books are an excellent source of expert advice and a readily available resource for more insight."

Here are six book recommendations to add to your reading list, courtesy of Spafford and other succession planning experts taking part in the Farm Journal Legacy Project.

Crucial Conversations"Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High"

—by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler

On any day, you could take part in a "crucial" conversation—one where opinions vary, emotions are strong and the stakes are high. Many times, people avoid these situations or handle them poorly.

"This is an outstanding book that helps you navigate these emotionally charged conversations," says Amy Shoemaker, director of people growth strategies with Kennedy and Coe LLC. "It contains great tools for having discussions around the legacy of the family farm."

From reading this book, you’ll learn how to transform anger and hurt feelings into a power dialogue, stay focused on the main points, make it safe to talk about anything and be persuasive instead of abrasive. By creating this type of communication culture within your family operation, you’ll be able to tackle any tough issues that come your way.

BeatingThe Midas Curse"Beating the Midas Curse"

—by Perry L. Cochell and Rodney C. Zeeb"Affluenza" is a destructive relationship with wealth.

"This is a common problem that makes family businesses implode," explains Johnne Syverson, a family business consultant with Transition Point Business Advisors.

"This book helps people overcome that issue and focus on passing down values to the next generation, along with valuables. If the values don’t get passed on, the valuables (including the family business) will eventually disappear."

GettingToYes"Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In"

—by Roger Fisher and William Ury

"This short book is an easy read that suggests several time-tested strategies for dealing with conflicts so they end with a win/win solution," says Carolyn Rodenberg, founder and owner of Alternatives to Conflict, a firm focused on solving and preventing conflict in the workplace.

"The authors propose that learning how to negotiate effectively is an essential tool for success in business relationships as well as personal interactions."

HowToGet Control"How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life"   

—by Alan Lakein

Your time is irreversible and irreplaceable. "This is an excellent resource to learn not just good time management, but rather how to focus your efforts on clearly defined objectives," Spafford says.

"I would consider this book a must-read for everyone, whether active in the family operation or not." The book details how to prioritize tasks and reduce stress.


The 7 Habits"The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change"   

—by Stephen R. Covey

"Do not mistake that this is an over-hyped business book," Spafford says. "This timeless classic has a cult-like following for a reason. It is one of the best self-development books of all time."

The author details a step-by-step process to include fairness, integrity and dignity into each day.


FailingForward"Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes Into Stepping Stones for Success"

—John C. Maxwell

"This book teaches you how to learn from mistakes and use them to propel your business forward," Shoemaker says. Most people are never taught how to react to disappointments.

As the book states: The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure. Instead of letting failures set you back, use them as a stepping stone.



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