How subsequent era skills can grasp household enterprise management

Mark A Clark is co-author of Six Paths to Leadership: Lessons From Successful Leaders, Politicians, Entrepreneurs, and More.

Incorporating family history and managing entitlement perception when dealing with complex relationships are key skills for aspiring family business executives, say executive experts.

Meredith Persily Lamel (pictured), managing director of Aspire @ Work, a coaching and leadership consultancy based in Washington, DC, has written the new book Six Paths to Leadership: Lessons from Successive Executives, Politicians, Entrepreneurs, and More with Mark A Clark, PhD (pictured), Associate Professor and Chair of the Management Department at American University’s Kogod School of Business.

Lamel shared with CampdenFB all of the leadership paths the authors explored in more than 60 interviews they had with global family business leaders, founders, executives, politicians, and senior government officials for the book. The family business journey has been full of unique challenges.

“Relationship management is complicated and essential for executives of all kinds,” said Lamel.

“Now you face this challenge that many of these relationships are also family for life. That puts an incredible strain on these relationships. With other pathways, like the underdog, you can be expected to lay off a certain percentage of the employee base if you are employed as a change agent.

“As a family leader, key talent decisions can affect a sibling or cousin, or sometimes even a parent. In addition, because of these relationships, there are certain options that executives simply do not have. “

Lamel said she and Clark were impressed with the amount of support family business executives sought to keep their relationships healthy. Some used a robust governance process that included non-family members, while others used family business consultants or coaches and many used family therapists.

“The bottom line is that family businesses bring enormous wealth and opportunities to many families, but they can also bring a lot of suffering and conflict. We were really impressed by these families, who had this intention of both running great businesses and maintaining healthy family relationships. “

CampdenFB asked Lamel how family business leaders can adapt to a changing world, what the next generation of leaders can do to address the delicate issue of succession with aging founders, and how the next generation can earn their place in the eyes of others .

What personal and professional qualities make a successful manager in a family business – can managers be taught and trained?

The personal and professional qualities of successful family entrepreneurs are not dissimilar to those of other organizations. However, there are certain pros and cons to the family legacy path that require more attention. There are qualities that can help these leaders better seize opportunities and face challenges.

For example, one of the options for family legacy leaders is to incorporate the family narrative into their lead. Those who are strong inspirational storytellers will be better able to take advantage of this opportunity. Likewise, one of the greatest challenges is managing the perception of claims. Because of this, leaders with greater humility and appreciation will be better able to cope with this perception. In addition, the challenge of management through complicated professional-family relationships requires exceptional communication and conflict management skills.

Do the requirements or expectations of a family business leader change in an era of blended families, longer living families, economic insecurity and technological disruption, and if so, how can they adapt?

The distinction we heard more about was the generation of leadership. For example, 2G, 3G, 4G etc. is the number of the generation since the company was founded. Certainly, with each subsequent generation, there should be a larger talent pool of family members to choose from.

I would say that one of the differences over time was that in the past it was mainly the founder’s sons who were expected to take over. Now we see sons and daughters. Additionally, families recognize that expecting a family member to take over the business, even if their heart isn’t in it, may not result in great leadership. Many family businesses even encourage future generations to pursue their dreams and interests, and if that is also to work for the family business, all the better.

What can families do to encourage more women in leadership positions and what do they bring into the role in contrast to male leaders?

There is a lot of informal mentoring in family businesses. We heard stories of large Thanksgiving family reunions associated with the annual family reunion. When multiple generations of leaders are present, they can strengthen the family history and culture and develop interest in working for the family business. Given that more men were likely to have held senior positions in the past, it is important that these older family members seek to nurture and develop the passion of aspiring female leaders in the family.

We have certainly seen the business case for diversity of all kinds to support successful companies. Given that a certain number of executives in a family business will come from a family background, we are already potentially limiting diversity. Building a diverse executive bank should be a priority for any business, including gender and other factors.

How should families in the 21st century choose their next business leader – for example based on ancestors, outside the family, on earnings, experience or qualifications?

We found that family businesses that develop an objective governance process tend to run more effectively. This includes defining the criteria for the selection of executives outside the individual and ensuring a fair process. Then you can z. For example, you can set specific requirements for C-suite positions without worrying about preferences for certain people.

One criterion we heard a lot was that you had to work for the C-Suite in another company and be promoted to an executive position before being considered for that executive position. We also heard about the requirements for education and international experience.

How can families encourage aging first-advisers to hand over control of the family business to their next-generation successors, and what role can these first-responders play instead?

We have heard of this challenge in many of our interviews. Again, the most successful companies tended to have an objective governance system that included boards of directors of both family members and non-family members.

Ideally, the governance documents contain information about retirement age and / or expectations so that these decisions have less impact on family relationships. The First-Genners play an incredible role in caring for the future generation and establishing the core family values ​​that define the company’s culture. They can also play an important role in passing on the relationships that have made the company successful in the past. We heard great stories from newer executives sharing stories with business partners about their grandparents etc that helped build trust instantly.

What can newly appointed executives in next generation family businesses do to earn the respect and trust of their families, colleagues, employees and suppliers?

Everything in our book revolves around strategies in the first 3-6 months in position. If I were to choose one strategy, it would be to go on a listening tour of all the different stakeholders. Inquire about their expectations, learn more about their perspective on the business, and find out what you think your efforts should be focused on.

They can then better meet and / or manage the expectations of their stakeholders. Additionally, they can make a habit of fully participating in a feedback loop in which others give them information and then they regularly share those key messages. Managing the news is key for any executive. Whenever you are trying to build trust with family members, you want to make sure that you treat them as an invested owner, too.

Six Paths to Leadership: Lessons from Successful Executives, Politicians, Entrepreneurs, and Moreby Mark A Clark and Meredith Persily (Palgrave Macmillan) is now available.