“While leadership development earns a top spot year after year after year on organizations’ talent priority lists, 36 percent do not have a formal leadership development strategy, according to 2015 Brandon Hall Group’s State of Leadership Development Study.” [Source]
Leaders are one of the most important elements in a family business’ success. They are responsible for keeping everyone united as a team and when a play goes wrong, they are ultimately in charge of getting the business back on track. Your position as a family business leader is not easy and you will have to learn some leadership skills to successfully fulfill your role. While some people are born leaders, most people have to develop leadership qualities. However, this may not be as difficult as you might think. A study by the Center for Creative Leadership found that successful executives learn their most important leadership lessons though:
· 70%: Challenging assignments (job changes and stretch assignments)
· 20%: Other people (bosses, coaches, mentors, etc…)
· 10%: Formal courses and books
To help you become a more efficient family business manager, follow these tips:
Maintain open communication. Effective communication skills are one of the cornerstones of a successful leader. The family business leader who is overbearing, demands the impossible from others, and demonstrates poor control over his emotions cannot lead the family business effectively. Instead, you need to be open and practice effective listening skills. If you are open to other family members opinions, you may find that they have a great idea that will improve the family businesses bottom line.
Remove discordance. Look at all members of your family business collectively, as a team. The success or failure of your business is success or failure for the entire team. When giving feedback you should not single individual team members out from the rest. This reminds me of high school football practice when the team is running laps, the leaders will often go back to the last person in the line to support and encourage them to keep going. That is teamwork. By removing discordance, you’ll be able to foster teamwork and synergy on your family business team.
Walk the talk. If you want to inspire people to do great things you need to set the example. If you don’t follow the guidelines you have set for them, they will be less likely to follow them. As the family business leader, you don’t “practice what you preach” other family members and employees will soon lose their respect for you. In the end, no one will take you seriously and the family business will suffer.
Be assertive. As the family business leader you need to find your leadership voice. You should be assertive but not overbearing. Your role in the family business is to ensure everyone’s motivated, fulfilling their responsibilities and working toward the businesses goals. While some of your family members may see your assertiveness as being headstrong you need to stay firm. A leader cannot please everyone all the time.
If you are struggling with your leadership role in your family business, get help. A survey by Fast Company found that “43% of CEOs and 71% of senior executives reported that they had worked with a coach. Most telling, 92% of leaders being coached say they plan to use a coach again.” Leadership is a talent you can learn.