Sibling and Cousin Teams Making Decisions

Kent Rhodes

Sibling and cousin leadership teams present unique challenges to enterprise owning families. Questions about everything from strategy to new hires are sometimes complicated by the mix of sibling/cousin owners who also serve as a part of the management team.  How those decisions are made and who has the final say about them can become a sticky issue

While collaborative leadership may be a desirable goal to many families, decision making by consensus is rarely easy and never efficient. The result can be that decisions are made unilaterally, which while saving time, may fail to take into account important strategic or even tactical views from other family leaders/owners working in the business. Quite unintentionally this approach can lead to lower quality decisions over the long haul and create tensions among owners.

So, what is a leadership team supposed to do when at first glance, the choices seem to be to make decisions efficiently but with the possible impact on the quality of relationships with fellow owners/managers (who are also brothers, sisters, and/or cousins) or drag discussions along wasting valuable time, energy and resource? Here’s a suggestion to consider: As a team, agree what kind of decisions require the teams’ input, individual teammate’s perspectives or are tactical, operational decisions that don’t require any further communication. This helps identify decisions that demand a higher quality outcome through broader input from the family leadership/ownership team. Stick to this practice, checking in with each other at an on-going owner or management meetings to make sure the highest quality decisions are being made for the benefit of both the enterprise and the family, rather than at the expense of one for the other.


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