Avoiding Family Business Leader Blindness

Lady Justice is blindfolded to symbolize fairness as she balances the distribution of law without bias or prejudice. And there is a similar balancing act in family business. On one side, leaders need to be motivated, intense, creative and assertive decision makers. On the other side, they need to nurture and support family harmony along with employee satisfaction. Not an easy scale to keep in balance. And while “blindness” is a positive attribute in the matters of justice, “CEO blindness” within a family business can have a very negative effect.

What got many family business owners to the level of business success they enjoy today is often what many of them rely on to solve their family business challenges of shared ownership, leadership, and management. But it doesn’t work. The skills required to grow a business are frequently not the same as those required to develop and maintain family harmony.

Ensuring your family business makes it to the next generation relies on one major skill – communication. And communication isn’t one-way; everyone has a voice.

If you are serious about transitioning the ownership and leadership of your family business, start having the discussion with stakeholders, including working and non-working family members, and even their spouses. Talk to other key people in the company. Remember that a voice does not equal a vote. Opening up discussion does not mean you lose your power or authority.  In fact, opening up discussion helps all stakeholders to manage their expectations.

Another key decision to successful family business transition is implementing a strategic planning process that gets the plan for the future of the business out of everyone’s head and down on paper. This is especially critical in a family-owned company, as it allows everyone to make decisions about their life and whether they want to be part of the family business going forward. I can’t overstate the importance of this process. If Next Gens can’t see your vision for the business and don’t feel they have a voice about their future in it, nothing but problems lie ahead.  

Tip the scales of transition in your favor. Start talking. Be open to all ideas and feedback. You do not need to have all the answers before the discussion starts. And start believing someone other than you can run the show.

Being blind to the transition process could cost you the successful exit you deserve.

Visit http://www.blumandsavlov.com/blog/family-business-founder-blindness/  for the original article authored by Jeff Savlov, CFBA, President at Blum & Savlov, Inc.  jsavlov@blumandsavlov.com