Listen to Kathryn McCarthy, a Family Business Advisor and Family Office Expert explain the importance of recognizing different leadership roles and leadership needs in the family business system, accepting the fact that not all family members have the same leadership capabilities, and committing to investing time and money in the development of leaders for the benefit of all members of the system.
The whole idea with the family office, with the family business, is to identify and develop leadership. Business owning families are very attuned to leadership in their businesses and very attuned to governance in their businesses, because that is what makes business work, and most families want their businesses to last, so they are very good about shareholder councils and family assemblies and decision-making processes. And what I find is that they get confused about leadership in the family and leadership in the family office. They kind of glom all this together. The families that think about it and become more astute in leadership understand that the business leadership may not be the same as the family leadership, and the family office leadership may be very different from the family leadership. Different skill set, different ability, different style of leadership. Families have a hard time, at least initially, articulating the differences.
The hardest thing with the business leader is to wrench the family leadership away from the business leadership. And one woman was brilliant in her analysis of her brother, who was the family business leader. She said, “XYZ person, Joe, is the CEO of our company. He is not the CEO of our lives.” And she got it, but getting Joe to give up that, and finally, you know, you work with them, and he finally did.
I have been working with a family that has spent ten years on transition, and so, they have spent a lot of time – they meaning the siblings – with facilitators, with tests. They have worked at identifying what their strengths are. A place was found for all of them in the family. There is five siblings. Some of them are leaders. Some of them are followers, and they know it. Some of them lead the family office. Some of them lead the family investment activities. Some of them lead the foundation. Some of them lead the family. There is a role for everybody.
It just takes a lot of time and a lot of effort. This is a lot of work. This is a lot of focus. Spending money on yourself, really being willing to develop human and intellectual capital, getting over sibling rivalry to a certain extent. Not, you do not ever really get over it, but dealing with it. It is really hard, because there is lots of lumps along the way.
If you do not have good leaders, you do not have good followers. It is the leaders that really push the agenda, and you have just got to hope that there has been enough work done on leadership and understanding how important it is. It is a sensibility that some, that the smarter families have that they need to develop leaders. I think it is as simple as including the family members early enough, so that people understand, not that there is a process of leadership selection, but there is a process of inclusion, and there is a process of recognizing that people are different and have different capabilities. And from that process worked at, and that is a key, you have got to work at it, the family as a group comes to know where their space is, and then the leaders emerge.