All week we’ve been pondering the case of ‘Jennifer,’ daughter of the founder, who has been told by those around her that her success seems assured, because she is seen to be Just Like Dad. Jennifer is a wise young woman, so here are her thoughts on the matter:
“I know people are watching me really closely. My father is so loved and respected by those around him here at the business. He built a fantastic enterprise in only a few decades, and the people here are dedicated and committed to the values and vision he has put forth. Treating others the way you want to be treated. Working hard. Providing top-notch products at fair prices. Earning a fair wage and sharing in the gains made by the business. The entire family believes in these values – originally stated by my dad.
When people tell me I am just like Dad, I think they are referring to these values and vision. It is definitely my job to show everyone that I am equally committed to those values, and to make sure the larger family understands this too.
That’s the easy part. The hard part is when I am in meetings, and people seem to turn to me for decisions on matters that are well outside my job responsibilities. I never know if I should speak up or stay quiet. I am working in sales right now, and when we discuss pricing or product design, I often have a strong opinion. But I worry that when I state my opinion, the people around me will take it too much to heart. Sometimes it appears that when I make a comment, some of the people in the room assume this is my dad’s opinion, which is not the case. This has all caused me to hang back a bit — but, I still have a lot of good ideas and want people to know! It can be pretty confusing to know what to do.
As time goes on, it becomes clear tha I am very different from my dad in many ways. First and foremost, I am a mother of the most adorable little girl you’ll ever meet. Although I care about the company’s success, I also want to be there for her when she needs me. I’m not sure how this will work out but I already know that I need a strong international sales team, because I am not going to spend half the year travelling to our customers on other continents like my dad did. Also, I want us to look into making flexible work arrangements more available for the parents in our workforce. Both my father and the CFO are not too excited about this, but I want to find a way to make it work without hurting our company. In the long run, I believe policies like that will actually make our company stronger.
I’m sure there will be plenty of other important differences between my father and I, but my support of the same values will never change.
So, there we have it. Being Just Like Dad has upsides and downsides that merit our attention and energy.
Those of you that follow our blogs and read our books probably know that when an either/or question like this is slapped on the table, our answer is likely to be: YES. In other words, rather than being forced to choose between two desirable options, we will never give up seeking a way to get BOTH.