Diversity and Success

I recently heard Jennifer Brown, author, Tedx-Talk speaker and entrepreneur, talk about the social and economic advantages associated with diversity. 

In her new book, Inclusion, Diversity, the New Workplace & the Will to Change, Jennifer calls upon people who can drive change to embrace diversity. She argues that when we build systems that embrace diversity in all its forms, we directly impact the bottom line; and that diversity is essential for the viability and sustainability of every organization.

She identifies a bias toward our own thinking and our propensity to go with sameness as challenges to diversity. Importantly, she recognizes that diversity issues cover much more than race and gender. They extend to areas of leadership, our relationships, and collective customs.

Her talk got me thinking about challenges to diversity in family enterprises as they transition from one generation to the next. The leadership style of the founders may be significantly different from that of the next generations, and a stubborn prejudice in favor of one style can be detrimental to the future success of the business and the family. It’s important that family-business leaders recognize that the marketplace and the social environment will continually evolve. Different conditions will inevitably call upon different natural abilities in next-generation family members.

The hard-driving dominance of a founder who grew the business making tough decisions may differ from the relationship-style of the next family leader–a style perhaps now needed to carry the business and the family through the next generation.


The Inside Three

As I sit down to write the blog for this week, the election is heavy on my mind. On the receiving end of change, I am flooded with emotions.

I keep returning in my thoughts to author Henri J.M. Nouwen’s The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming. Inspiration for the book sprang from the feelings Nouwen experienced while studying Rembrandt’s painting of a scene from the parable. He saw parallels in his own life—the younger son’s departure and return, the father’s joyous restoration of his place, the elder son’s resentment and ultimately the father’s compassion.

Nouwen found each of these archetypes in himself and suggests they are in all of us, both male and female. The younger son’s need to prove to himself and others that he is worthy of love and acceptance—often searching where they cannot be found; the elder son’s resentment, absence of joy, and obsession about being loved, felt as: “when I hear others praised it is hard not to think of myself as less praiseworthy;” the father’s infinite compassion, unconditional love and everlasting forgiveness, all resonate within us.

As the author sees it, we must live these types to be complete, passing from one to the other; at times returning to experience again the psychology of the younger and elder sons as we grow. Many pass through all three stages, some more quickly than others. Some never complete the full journey.

It is, in Nouwen’s words, “through grief, forgiveness and generosity that we become the father.”

Certainly, for members of family businesses, it is by living this journey that we truly become leaders of ourselves, our families, and fathers of our family legacies.

If you would like to have a conversation about the journey of your family business contact me at rickraymond@thefamilybusinessleader.com. To talk please call: 212-777-0083.


Purpose and Love

Last week I heard author Patrice Tanaka, http://joyfulplanet.com/books/, speak about the role that having a purpose has had in her life, and the benefit and importance of knowing one’s purpose in achieving success and satisfaction in life and career.

She mentioned that significant research reveals that “purpose-driven” organizations outperform “profit-only-focused” organizations. Personally I had no doubts about this, and was thankful for the confirmation

During her talk an audience member commented that she saw the purpose of life was to love and be loved –love the work you do and be loved for what you do–who you are.

Immediately, thoughts of purpose and love within family businesses came to mind. I venture to say that it is impossible for a family business to sustain itself through multiple generations without both.