Archive for January, 2012

Family Business Dysfunction or Just Normal Family?

I had the pleasure to meet Judi Cunningham, the Executive Director of the Business Families Centre at UBC.  Judi and her team are creating some of the best educational programs for both business families and the advisors who serve them.

At one point in the conversation, I said something about family dysfunction and Judi was quick to stop me. She said that she thought we should all take the word “dysfunction” out of our vocabulary. Her point was that most of the behaviors we deal with when dealing with business families are pretty normal human tendencies. Rather than give them the negative and inaccurate label of “dysfunctional,” we should consider the behaviors as normal and deal with them as such.

As a student of how mindset can impact effectiveness, I notice myself having a slightly different and more optimistic mindset about dealing with some of the typical behaviors that can be disruptive in a family business.

After I thought about it more, I looked at my own experience in my family business and the families I work with, and thought she is right. Every family can face competitiveness, lack of trust, hurt feelings as a results of poor communication or lack of clear expectations.

Thanks Judi! I am making a conscious effort to eliminate “dysfunctional behavior” from my vocabulary and exchanging it with typical human family behavior. This will also help set the right tone for the business families who are learning to play nice and play as team in our Family Business Workout.

Coaching Pitfall – Toxic Culture

Similar to overemphasis on money, in these organizations there are a variety of other, either historical or environmental issues, that have the place so sick that the coaching has no room to breathe, get integrity or take hold.  These toxic cultures take on many different forms and usually are a result of toxic leaders. Examples of toxic cultures are where there may be addiction, abuse, dishonesty or epic political struggles.  If you have a toxic culture, coaching is not going to take hold.