“Leaders don’t go soon enough,” says Gary Erickson, founder of Clif Bar, the $100 million maker of energy bars. “They wait too long, can’t find someone and have trouble . The company loses momentum; you burn out and sell out.”
In 2000, Erickson and his wife were trying to decide whether to sell their company. They decided not to sell, instead buying out their partner. Erickson went back to his job as CEO for four years. By 2004, he’d groomed a successor for several years and could turn over the reins with confidence.
That successor, Sheryl O’Loughlin, allowed Erickson to recommit himself to his company in a smaller, very specific capacity. Now, he does only what he loves, including developing new products. And O’Loughlin leads the company.
—Adapted from True to Yourself: Leading a Values- Based Business, Mark Albion, Berrett-Koehler Publishers.