05/4/16

Fifth Generation and Almost Out

Family enterprises that have continued into their 5th generation often have processes in place that helped them overcome the challenges they encountered through the years. They have a vision for the future. They have a declaration of shared values. They have governance structures, such as a family council, an external advisory board. They have a forum for family members to discuss the family in the context of the business. They have gained foresight and have learned how to address situations where family members undergo a loss of capacity. They have a funded growth plan. They have an established mindset that accepts the need to turn leadership responsibilities over to the rising generation; and the incumbent leadership has their retirement plans in place.

Often–but not always.

Here’s the story of Yuengling Brewery, an “almost casualty” rescued by a fifth-generation prodigal son.

http://www.inc.com/dick-yuengling/how-a-father-son-rift-almost-destroyed-yuengling-brewery.html

03/26/16

The Networked Age–What Can LinkedIn Leaders Learn from Family Businesses?

I recently heard Jeremy Stover, LinkedIn’s head of leadership management and executive development, speak as part of a panel discussing the state of executive coaching. I asked him about the success of leadership coaching within LinkedIn, and he directed me to an article he wrote in December of 2105 entitled “Social Leadership in the Networked Age.”

In it Stover wrote that when LinkedIn leaders were asked about business challenges and opportunities they see, a theme became clear: “the phenomenal pace and relentless rate of change.” In his view a new type of leadership development is required at both the organizational and the individual levels to address these challenges.

“The Networked Age is here…” Stover declares. And it calls for leadership skills that go beyond those of emotional intelligence, authenticity, executive presence. clarity of vision and communication. While these will always be essential, they stop short of what is needed now–leaders who have a network perspective and understand the dynamic web of connections that impact their work, their leadership, and the leadership culture of their organization.

I agree with him, and I chose the title of this blog post because I believe successful family enterprises have recognized and made use of complex and long-standing networks connecting family- and non-family stakeholders across many generations.

03/5/16

A Family Community

In January 2016 Dennis T. Jaffe, Ph.D. published a book entitled RELEASING THE POTENTIAL OF THE RISING GENERATION: How Long-Lasting Family Enterprises Prepare Their Successors. In it he discusses attitudes and actions that together comprise the success of multi-generational family businesses. 

Jaffe’s book makes a strong case for the idea that family business success is less about building the business and more about how the family goes about creating a family community focused on educating and mentoring the next generation and developing next-generation careers.

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.