What Boris Johnson’s resignation could teach you about effective succession planning

Whatever your opinion of former prime minister Boris Johnson, his recent resignation has sparked controversy among the British people. Following Theresa May’s resignation in 2019, Johnson was elected to replace her, and led the Conservatives to a general election win in December 2019.

Whether or not you voted for Johnson then, or whether or not you would still vote for him now, it is safe to say that his time as prime minister has been a turbulent one. From completing the Brexit agreement, to shouldering a once-in-a-century pandemic, Johnson was not presented with an easy situation – and some would argue he wasn’t up to the challenge.

Now, Johnson has resigned. After weeks of being urged to step down as prime minister by MPs, cabinet officials, and political commentators, Johnson delivered his resignation speech on 7 July.

While Johnson has remained a controversial figure throughout his time in number 10, there are valuable lessons to be learned from his final days as prime minister.

As a leader, you will recognise that making difficult choices, including the choice to step down (or not), is a crucial skill that business owners often learn the hard way.






So, here is what Boris Johnson’s resignation could teach you about succession planning.


  1. Listening to others is a valuable skill, no matter how far up the ladder you sit

In his resignation speech, Johnson said, “As we have seen in Westminster, the herd instinct is powerful, and when the herd moves, it moves.”

Here, he is referring to the inevitable: when those close to you feel you should step down and let your business move into a new phase, their persuasive powers can be strong. In this instance, fighting the tide is both exhausting and counterproductive, both for your own wellbeing as a business owner, and for the health of the company itself.

Indeed, if you founded your business many years ago and have reached many of your goals already, you could be tempted to keep pushing, even if you are approaching retirement age.

It can be hard to see the good in moving on, perhaps handing leadership to adult children who want to take over, or even selling the business altogether. Indeed, it could be that your most trusted allies – your spouse, business partners, or closest friends – help you accept the hard truth that it’s time to let go.

Although it is important to make your decisions based on what you think, the “herd instinct” of those who have been with you since the beginning is powerful. As a business owner, listening to the advice of friends and trusted professionals is a skill many, including Boris Johnson, have learned the hard way.






2. Putting your business’s future above your current emotions is important

One of the key reasons Johnson decided to resign may have been for the good of the Conservative party, rather than for his own personal gain. Indeed, in his speech, Johnson said he found it “painful” not to see through the projects and ideas he had set in motion as prime minister.

As a business owner, an important part of succession planning is putting the health of your business over your personal feelings. Although it may be hard to think of anyone else running the company you have nurtured since its conception, sometimes you need to put the longevity of your business ahead of your emotions.

Your financial planner can help you create a plan for your business so that it outlasts you. While this can be a scary thought, a trusted professional can help you see your company’s future objectively rather than emotionally, allowing you to put measures in place that can ensure its prosperous future.


3. Start preparing your replacement early

Following Boris Johnson’s resignation, a new Conservative leader will be voted in by party members. Many MPs made a bid for the role following Johnson’s stepping down, with two candidates now remaining: former chancellor Rishi Sunak, and former foreign secretary Liz Truss.

Although Johnson’s resignation signifies new opportunities for the Conservative party, it has also sparked some turmoil. With the country already in disarray while shouldering the pandemic, economic difficulty, and the war in Ukraine, even necessary shifts in leadership could lead to further unrest.

Of course, unlike Boris Johnson, you are able to choose your own successor when it comes to stepping down as leader of your business. Whether you decide to sell your company altogether, or pass the top job to a family member or trusted colleague, you are in the drivers’ seat when it comes to your company’s future.

Even if you are not thinking about moving on from your role just yet, it could be constructive to begin planning your replacement early.

For example, if you run a family business, you could begin thinking about which of your children, if any, might wish to assume your role in the years to come.

Or, if you plan to sell your business when the time is right, consulting with your financial planner as early as possible could be wise. We can provide valuable insights on how market conditions, as well as personal factors, could affect a business sale.


Get in touch

Although Boris Johnson may have caused controversy with his resignation, you don’t have to. If you want to step away from your business gracefully and allow it to prosper without you in future, get in touch today.

Email info@henwoodcourt.co.uk or call 0121 313 1370 to speak to an experienced financial planner.

Please note

This article is for information only. Please do not act based on anything you might read in this article.




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