Just Like Her Dad, part 1

Amy Schuman
Amy Schuman

Recently, the COO of a large family business told me that he was really excited about the daughter of the current CEO who had just celebrated her second anniversary with the company. The daughter, who we’ll call Jennifer, had followed the family employment policy to the letter and was now moving through the organization in several key learning positions.

“She’s just like her Dad”, the executive happily reported, with clear relief.

Later in the day, I found myself pondering that remark. Is it best for the family business when the next family leader is ‘just like’ the one that came before? Or is it better for the next generation leader to take a different approach?

Also – what is best for this young woman? Should she model herself after her father, the successful founder of a company with global reach, supporting thousands of employees on several continents? His approach clearly was successful, why would she do anything different? Is her main task to study her father closely, and dedicate herself to perpetuating his proven leadership style, or should she follow the beat of her own drum?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this question – and we’ll take this discussion further in a post later this week. What’s been your experience – do you look for someone just like the current leader, or someone very different – why?

One thought on “Just Like Her Dad, part 1”

  1. Very good thought! Amy. Responding your question, I think we can look at it from two aspects. On one aspect, we want the daughter to be able to have the kind of knowledge and skills that the father has. It is these knowledge and skills that enable the business firm to go through the initial starting stage and reach to the current stage. So from this aspect, we want the daughter to be like the father. On the other hand, we don’t want the daughter to be exactly like the father, especially from business innovation perspective. For family business to sustain over generations, they need to think about how to stay competitive advantage through continuous innovation. This is also why it is imperatively important for the daughter to grasp a set of skills and knowledge that the father may not have. From this aspect, we want the daughter to be different from the father.

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