Leadership in the Family

Coaching - Succession- Financial Planning

Leadership in the Family

Authority and control exercised by a leader can serve to constrain the team members or provide guidance and direction through what I call strategic leadership.

Family business management operates at two levels, operational and strategic. New businesses, still in the “survival” stage function largely in the operations level, living day-to-day, chasing customers and staying ahead of creditors; there is an element of excitement to this and simplicity. When times are tough, retreat to the day-to-day is often the natural response.

Successful leaders of family businesses learn the value of strategic management; strategic thinking has a longer time horizon, looking at needs and anticipated markets 3, 5, even 10 years out. When family leaders accept the role as business strategists they make room for the next generation to come in and work at the operational level, under the watchful eye of the senior generation but with room, within the parameters of the strategic plan, to be creative, learn on the job, and apply the cutting edge technical tools they grew up with that their parents struggle to learn.

There is an interesting TED Talk at http://bit.ly/sIuMpW The orchestra conductor Itay Talgam discusses leadership using leadership of the orchestra “team” by the conductor to achieve the common goal of harmony and beautiful music, integrating contributions from different sections of the orchestra.

It may be that I just relate any message to family business but Talgam’s message seems to apply. His missive that leadership and control can be held at different levels in the relationship between team and leader applies whether you are focussed on orchestra harmony or family harmony. The level of control exercised and approach taken contribute to the results — the ability of individual team members to create within the parameters set by the leader, achieve personal satisfaction with the work they are doing and feel fulfillment as part of a team.

The family team members working for a common goal (outlined in the strategic plan) under the watchful eye of the conductor…I mean senior manager… are encouraged, supported and allowed to be creative while control is retained at the senior level. It takes practice to sound like a great orchestra and regular communication between members and between members and conductor. Yes I think the analogy works perfectly, the video takes about 20 minutes but, if you are interested in family businesses and business growth into transition, I believe you will find a valuable line of thought presented.

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