• Jon Kenfield

Blog #5 - Fossilised Leaders

Fossilisation happens when an aging business leader rusts in place and becomes averse to change and innovation.

As we live longer, we want to do more with our lives than ever before, but when fossilised leaders use power, rather than good sense, to continue working in the family business, conflict is likely to follow.

Fossilisation risks to business include: increased risk aversion; less innovation, inadequate investment, and disappearance of the succession pipeline.

Ambitious family members, and star employees, don’t hang around if they have other options. Everyone suffers.


Make plans, well in advance. Age changes attitudes, and emotional needs (conscious or otherwise) defeat logic and skew actions in unattractive ways.

Avoid the risk of fossilisation by transitioning leaders out of operational roles at around age 60 to support their reassignment, or exit, by age 70.

Use formal job descriptions for all senior roles, including end of work dates. Performance monitor all staff to assess the quality of their strategic thinking.

If necessary, create alternate work opportunities for key individuals - so they have somewhere they want to move to.

I’m interested in your thoughts and questions.