Successful businesses have the potential to survive their founders. Businesses structured as corporations, nonprofits or cooperatives have trajectories that are related to, but separate from, the people who found them. Business succession is the process of figuring out how a company will continue to operate after its founders or leaders are no longer actively involved. Because leadership styles and models differ widely, succession models also vary based on the way an organization has been managed.

Authoritarian Leader

An organization that traditionally has been managed by an authoritarian leader most likely will be passed on to another leader with similar traits. A leader who manages from the top down does not allow much input from his staff, and usually hand picks the successor he believes most capable of continuing to run his company with the same carefully controlled management style. It is difficult for an authoritarian leader to give up control of his company; however, asserting maximum control in the transition process may allow him to make peace with the idea of transitioning away from personal leadership.

Team Leader

Team leaders are devoted to bringing out the best in their staff by fostering learning, communication and creativity. A successful team leader will have done much of the work for succession planning before she even begins thinking specifically about succession. When company knowledge and systems are broadly shared, the end of a specific leader's tenure does not deprive the organization of its operational focus. Although there may be a designated individual who takes over the leadership position, the company is well-positioned to continue running smoothly even if the new manager is a less skilled leader than the old one.

Country Club Leader

This management style is based on personal relationships and involves using rewards to motivate employees, such as praise and bonuses. A country club manager runs the risk of blurring the lines between friendship and management, possibly sacrificing operational learning for the sake of creating the illusion that things are running smoothly and employees are content. Like an authoritarian leader, a country club leader's management style is integrally tied to a specific individual, making succession tricky because a successor does not have the benefit of his predecessor's established relationships.

Impoverished Leader

Leading neither by example or by relationships, this manager delegates responsibilities without sticking around to provide useful feedback and see how work is performed. Succession in an organization previously run by an impoverished leader may be easy because such a leader has not provided much leadership to replace. However, a leader who has not properly trained employees may leave a void where successors aren't really certain what to do.