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  • Writer's pictureSelina Bolton

6 Steps to establishing the right 2iC

If you're transitioning towards a purely strategic role, or planning to sell your business, you need to choose a trusted second-in-command to run your day-to-day operations.

The benefits of a having a second-in-command (2iC):

  • Strengthens the management team.

  • Keeps day-to-day operations running smoothly, even if you’re absent.

  • Gives you space to deal with high-level strategic work.

  • Enhances investor confidence.

Choosing the right candidate is an important decision. These six steps will help you prepare for the selection process and ensure you pick the right 2iC to take care of your business’ day-to-day management.

Step 1: Identify the skillset required

It’s essential to define what kind of role you want when you step back, and what kind of role your 2iC will adopt when they step up. Your skill sets should be complimentary and your partnership should enjoy a little healthy tension.

"It's an opportunity to plug your weaknesses and bring new expertise and value to the team"

By recording daily activities and decisions made, you’ll be able to identify where your energy and time is well spent, and where it isn’t. A CEO should be defining the business’ strategy, leading transformation, and managing market-facing activities. Anything else, including management meetings and overseeing projects, should be passed to your 2iC.

Tip! Remember to include the rhythm and timescales for operational tasks and decisions. It will indicate areas for focus and improvement.

Outcomes: A clearly defined list of roles and responsibilities for both you and your 2iC.

Step 2: Define your business’ core values

Shared values should unite your entire organisation.

Your core values will already be an intrinsic part of your brand identity. It could include sustainability, innovation, responsibility, loyalty, efficiency, and much more. This directs how your business moves forward, so it’s important to share those values with anyone who’ll be making significant decisions.

Outcomes: A set of valuable traits and values to look for during recruitment.

Step 3: Be clear about what kind of growth you expect

If your growth targets are aggressive, your 2iC will need a proven track record of achieving similarly ambitious results. Equally important will be their ability for aligning and motivating the rest of the organisation behind the objective.

Outcomes: Once you’ve defined the ideal skillset, identify the personality traits required to ignite the rest of the organisation.

Step 4: Consider recruiting from within the company first

Finding talent that’s already invested in your company is a no-brainer. According to Stanford professor and organisational psychologist Bob Sutton,

“internal candidates have a strong tendency to outperform external leaders.”

Establish a leadership development track and give each of your 2iC prospects a project that allows them to demonstrate their leadership skills and an opportunity to interact with your senior management team.

Outcomes: An engaged team of potential senior leaders, ready for a challenge.

Step 5: Use personality profiling techniques to understand your candidates

Personality profiling tests, like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and Wealth Dynamics, will reveal a lot about your potential 2iC. This includes their natural preferences, biggest motivators, how they work with others, and how they manage stressful challenges.

Tip! Rather than looking for someone who shares your traits, this is a good opportunity to recruit someone who can bring qualities you don’t have, or is equipped to deal with aspects of the business that you don’t want to do.

Outcomes: A detailed understanding of who you are, who your candidates are, and how your personalities could work together.

Step 6: Plan the handover and stick to it

When you’ve selected your 2iC, the handover process is the next big responsibility. This will help them transition into their new role successfully, and ensure you transfer the tasks you want to remove from your remit.

Tip! Collaborate with your main department heads and stakeholders. Your 2iC will be working closely with them too!

The essential handover checklist:

  • Communication plan

  • Key stakeholders

  • Timeline of essential dates

  • Current processes

  • Main challenges

  • Short-term and long term sales goals

  • Any resources they’ll need

Outcomes: A proactive plan for both you and your 2iC.

Choosing the right 2iC for your business

It’s vital you leave your business’ day-to-day running in the most capable hands, so finding a creative, innovative 2iC is a tough job. Selection is only part of the journey. To be truly successful you should support and coach them as they establish themselves in the role. The transition will take time, not just for you but also for the rest of the organisation.


Selina Bolton is a business strategist and the founder of Seed.Partners; a mergers & acquisitions firm specialising in attracting investment and creating opportunities for small to medium-sized businesses to scale and build value at pace.

Contact Us to find out how we can partner with you to accelerate your business growth.

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