Developing the New Leaders of your Family Enterprise

Recently the Family Business Consulting Group produced a new webinar program titled “Developing the New Leaders of your Family Enterprise”.  Below are responses to a few of the questions asked by the participants during the program.  The complete webinar is available for replay at this link. 

Developing the New Leaders of your Family Enterprise


Q.  What happens when the diversity of experience looks more like you can’t figure out what you are looking for? How do you avoid this?

A.  The key to avoiding this is to be explicit about your plan in advance. If key stakeholders (e.g., shareholders and senior managers) know that the plan is to have a diversity of experiences — and it would also be good to let them know why that diversity is being sought — then it is less likely that these experiences will appear to be aimless or uncertain.

Q. Doesn’t speed to trust also play a role in versatility? How does trust play a role in versatility?

A. Trust does, indeed, play a role in versatility… as do a number of other factors such as business acumen, time management, and communication skills. We’ve found, though, that focusing on the “What” (Strategic vs. Operational) and “How” (Forceful vs. Enabling) of leadership will give you the most “bang for your buck.”

Q. Interested in John Ward’s students “ learnings”

  • Sales are Vanity
  • Profits are Sanity
  • Cash is reality
  • Values are eternity

Q. How do you handle a situation where founder (patriarch) has stepped away and in later years seeks to become actively involved or promote projects initiatives that are aimed at leaving his “mark”? in the process he is altering the Next Generation working dynamic.

 A.   To the frustration of many successors, founders commonly “come back.” They claim there is unfinished     teaching and contribution. In fact, they are unhappy, perhaps very depressed, since letting go.

The best we can advise is to (1) see if you can channel his/her energy in a constructive way; (2) over, over communicated; (3) hopefully benefit from the support of an outside board (or, perhaps, from long-time professional advisors).

Q. How important is it to publish and share the mission, vision and values of the family?

A.   Family mission, family values, and the family’s ownership vision are the most important foundation and the backbone of the family constitution. We believe this is so as the family’s family commitment to each other is essential for long-term ownership continuity.

Q. Is Level 5 leadership a book or an article?

A.  “Level 5 Leadership” is an article from the Harvard Business Review by Jim Collins. It is an examination of one piece of his book called “Good to Great.”

Q. How do you deal with a founder who does not delegate and does not give away real power?  It makes it impossible to grow as a leader?

A.  A founder who does not delegate makes the situation difficult. There are many factors to consider, but the two that I would start with are (1) trying to figure out what is constraining the founder from delegating (sometimes, simply asking the founder, “What keeps you from delegating?” may be enough to loosen those constraints), and (2) painting a picture for the founder of the likely long term consequences of not delegating — often, the thing that constrains founders in situations like this is that they are so focused on today that they haven’t given much thought to tomorrow.


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