01/29/16

Assessing Emotional Intelligence – The Results Are In

For the past two weeks I have been writing about emotional intelligence and its role in family business. From the many responses I have received, it is clear that this topic has struck a chord with readers.

This week I want to briefly show the value of applying emotional intelligence assessment within a family business. The case is presented by author Ernesto Poza in the 4th Edition of “Family Business,” published by South Western Cengage Learning. I use this text in my Family Business Management class in the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College, City University of New York.

Poza writes about a family with challenging dynamics. They wished to create an environment of engaged conversation while ensuring all stakeholders were sufficiently respected. Following an assessment of the family’s facility for emotional intelligence they developed a Family Rules of Conduct. The rules they agreed to were:

  1. Focus on the future, not the past.
  2. Be a good listener.
  3. Put yourself in the other’s shoes.
  4. Stay focused on principles, not personalities.
  5. Make “I” not “You” statements.
  6. Say “Got it” whenever speech-making blocks progress.
  7. Disagreements are okay, as long as we are committed to arriving at an improved final decision.

What do these rules tell you about the family’s overall level of emotional intelligence?

Do you think the application of emotional-intelligence assessment tools was useful in this case?

01/17/16

You Are So Emotional!

Yes, I am emotional. l am your sister, brother, son, daughter, mother, father, another family member. We not only work together, we grew up in the same family. We share common experiences and emotional history–ingrained touch points that can trigger easily. Because of this familiarity, emotions can spill over into a family business much more often than would be acceptable in a non-family business.

In themselves emotions are not bad; they are valuable. Their energy drives the human psyche; they serve as social signals. When funneled properly emotional energy can be used to achieve significant positive outcomes. Unbridled, emotions can cause untold devastation.

Denying one’s emotions or discrediting those of others is destructive. It is important to cultivate an emotional intelligence to recognize our own and other people’s emotions; to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately. We are then better equipped to manage our thinking and behavior to maintain harmony in our families and success in our family enterprises, especially during times of increased stress.

Emotional intelligence is so vital to the success of family businesses that as part of my Family Business Management class at Baruch College, City University of New York, I have students assess their own level of emotional intelligence, and – since we can increase our capacity for emotional intelligence – develop a plan for doing so for themselves.

10/31/15

An Owners’ Vision

On October 22, I attended the Fall 2015, Global Family Business Event hosted by the Lawrence N. Field Center for Entrepreneurship at Baruch College, City University of New York. The keynote speaker was Lena Jungell, a fourth-generation member of “The Frazer Group.”She shared with us the story of her family’s business.http://www.fazer.com/our-brands/karl-fazer/finlands-most-valued-brand/.

Her talk, “The Development of an Owners’ Vision” presented a valuable model of the potential possible in family businesses. The Frazer Group has grown into an international company, now supported by and supporting six generations. One significant take-away from the talk was a picture of the strength the family derives from their collective values and the clarity of the firm’s vision—“to create taste sensations”. It’s simple, easily understood, and looks outward toward their customers and community.

Ms. Jungell added that the family-business’ vision has evolved over time through ongoing input from the owners, family members, society, and their environment. This reminds me of the statement made by Sam Johnson, former CEO of The Sam Johnson Company; that every generation has the responsibility to determine a vision for the firm under their leadership.

Next week I will write about family’s values as foundation of the owners’ vision.