Tag Archives: mentor

Laying the Entrepreneurial Foundation

Anne Hargrave
Anne Hargrave

At a recent gathering of 100 family business and family office advisors, from numerous professional disciplines, there was an expansive discussion about what it takes to foster entrepreneurship in business, philanthropy and wealth management.

Over the course of two days, a few themes surfaced around specific actions parents might take to instill qualities often found in successful entrepreneurs, such as…

Create a Foundation for Resilience. Resilience surfaced as the most common thread in entrepreneurial success stories.  Healthy relationships, sound health, eating and sleeping well, and physical activity all create a foundation for resilience.   When relationships amongst people in a family are healthy, individuals can withstand stress, even trauma.  When you feel resilient you are more able to view risk as a means to reward (not an impediment), and gain strength and courage from difficulties.

Insist on Respect. 
Being considerate of each other, demonstrating respect, is the tie that binds, even more than love. When we allow family members to define themselves, appreciating and celebrating differences, they can then embrace their own strengths – fostering confidence and self-esteem. When someone feels respected they are more able to believe in possibilities and their own personal ability, and dream actively – a foundation of entrepreneurship.

Embrace Failure.  Treat failure as a given; celebrate failure.  Some families actively seek out failure examples at the dinner table, or in family meetings, to explore what was learned and how the experience can be turned into another opportunity.  Making failure acceptable and expected encourages resilience, courage and the inner strength to continue to move forward.

Look for Mentors. Encourage family members at an early age to ask for advice, learn from others, and shape and create opportunities.  Mentors can be found through school, athletics, community, social relationships, business contacts, and family members.  Entrepreneurs generally have a strong work ethic influenced by those around them who modeled the right behaviors.  Mentors can help frame up a vision for the future.


Are you Providing Decision Making Opportunities to the Next Generation?

Kelly LeCouvie
Kelly LeCouvie

Junior generation family members sometimes tell us that they believe no decision-making authority will come to them before senior generation family members either exit the business or die. And in some cases, they’re right. That is somewhat discouraging, and also a deterrent for next generation engagement.

We have found that decisions are difficult for the next generation to manage when their “transition” goes from making no decisions to making all decisions.

Why not provide the next generation with opportunities to make decisions (either related to the business or the family) before you make your exit? You might not want to start with key strategic decisions, or life-altering decisions on behalf of the family, but there are many options. Here are some examples:

  • Planning the next family meeting (location, social time, draft agenda);
  • Making a hiring decision without your stamp of approval;
  • Designing a family website or newsletter;
  • Selecting his own mentor in the business;
  • Choosing recipients of philanthropic donations;
  • Setting up a pilot project for a new product or service;
  • Identifying development workshops/conferences that are most appropriate for her generation;
  • Make some investment decisions with other members of the junior generation with a fixed sum of money;

There are many opportunities to build confidence and establish credibility among the next generation through increased decision-making. What decisions can you identify in your family that might engage them, while developing decision-making competence?


The Importance of Mentorship

by Kristi Daeda

“I have had my 15 minutes of fame and enjoyed my time in the spotlight and walking at the head of the parade. I believe that to whom much is given, much is expected. I want to give back. I enjoy watching younger people learn and develop. By helping others, I may in a small way be able to influence the next generation.”

         – Jack Pycik, former CEO, in interview with FBCG Principal Steve McClure

In our work with families on succession planning, much time and effort is spent in considering how the next generation will be prepared to step into leadership roles in both the family and the business. One important piece of the puzzle for these emerging family leaders is mentorship.

Mentorship relationships take many shapes and sizes. Some are very formal, with agendas, regular meetings and development goals. Others are more fluid, with meetings as needed or when the mentee requests them. Some of these relationships include guidance and feedback on wide-ranging topics from career goals, to leadership, to professionalism, to family dynamics. Others are very focused, such as a CFO helping a young manager improve their understanding of company financial performance.

Mentoring Benefits All Involved

Regardless of the structure or content, both mentors and mentees can benefit greatly from a mentoring relationship. Some benefits of a mentoring relationship include:

For the Mentee:

  • Experience at building professional relationships, especially with senior staff/company leaders.
  • Support and feedback.
  • Regular focus on professional goal setting and long-term career thinking.
  • Sounding board on how to handle complex work issues and interpersonal challenges.
  • Direct access to advanced knowledge about the business and industry.

For the Mentor:

  • Personal enjoyment of helping another professional succeed.
  • Reaffirmation of professional knowledge and experience.
  • Increased perspective on other areas of the business, trends and challenges.
  • Recognition from superiors as an organizational leader and contributor to overall success.

Mentoring Can Greatly Accelerate Professional Development

The best business lessons often don’t come from textbooks, and our best wisdom often comes from someone who has learned the hard way.

When done well, a positive mentoring relationship can lead to much quicker advancement – not just in job title, but in key success areas like communication, leadership, collaboration, and business thinking. The experience of learning from a mentor’s successes, failures and hard-won perspective, with the opportunity to ask questions and work together to apply these lessons to one’s own day to day work, can create great leaps in learning.

A mentor can also be an advocate (“sponsor”) within the company, helping the mentee identify opportunities for growth and smoothing their path to advancement.

Mentors can be Impartial Advisors

Lastly, and perhaps one of the greatest advantages of mentorship within family businesses, is that a mentor is often viewed as impartial in a way that Mom and Dad are not.

When Mark hears that he needs to step up his communication skills from his father, that message comes with the baggage of the family dynamic, no matter how healthy it may be. The same message delivered by an independent third party can be received very differently. The mentor’s perceived disinterest allows them a unique position as trusted advisor, a plus for both the organization and the mentee.

It’s clear that mentorship is a powerful tool that carries a wide range of benefits for all involved. How might your family embrace mentorship?



The Difference Between a Coach and a Mentor? Is There One?

I’m often approached by family members who need a coach.   They may have a mentor who is sometimes, a family member. So why is that not enough? This lies in the fundamental difference between the mentor and the coach. A mentor can pass on knowledge, provide advice and in some cases, “tell you what to do”. They are directive. A coach, however, is meant to unlock the answers that we all have inside, if only we knew it. Their role is to ask the right questions, reframe what you may perceive as a lack of choice and help you to see that we all have within us the capacity to choose. For example, we can:

  • change the system (often difficult)
  • change the person or part of the system that is causing us distress
  • change our reaction to that system

The latter is always within our capability so to do.

Often times, a coach will help you to become “unstuck” and to envisage a future that is different. They might ask, if things were different:

  • what would you feel?
  • what would you hear?
  • what would you see?

A mentor may also be part of the family business, such as a non-family executive. Sometimes they may be too close to be perceived as objective. Perhaps the mentor themselves feels compromised on confidential issues. Perhaps they have their own agendas which must also be respected. But coaches are neutral and you can be assured of their confidentiality in discussions. They help to build your self-esteem by having YOU find the answers. But rest assured that coaches are not therapists. They may use counseling techniques but some issues do belong in therapy. A good coach should understand these boundaries, be able to articulate them and make recommendations for additional help should you need it. Most importantly, a good coach should be willing to work alongside any other mentor/therapist you might work with. All for the good of YOU.

 For more insight into how coaches can assist in the family firm, please look out for our webinar on July 27, 2011.  For additional information click here.


The value of experience

Norb Schwarz

I recently came across the following statement in a family participation policy regarding the requirement of outside employment for family members wanting to join the business. Please let me know of any other items you might include from your experience.

Outside work experience is required for the following reasons:

A. It’s good for the company:

  • We have a wider and more varied experience base (ideas and contacts).
  • It promotes a culture of meritocracy over entitlement.

B.  It’s good for the family member:

  • Opportunity to make mistakes elsewhere (that aren’t remembered forever).
  • Opportunity to prove oneself and gain self-confidence where a person’s last name doesn’t count.
  • Helps avoid self-doubt later down the road (could I have made it on the outside?).
  • Opportunity to find a mentor from outside the family or business.
  • Opportunity to gain different perspectives and experience and be able to start contributing earlier in one’s career.
  • Acceptance by non-family members will be easier (credibility issue).
  • Opportunity to develop honest expectations for oneself.