Cousin Thinks He is the Star; Employees Think He’s Average at Best.

business-superman-955075-mIt’s not that uncommon for us to come across family members in family businesses that have an unrealistic sense of their abilities and impact. However, this can have a detrimental effect on the business as well as on the person living a bit of a… delusional life.

I have seen this many times. It happens for a couple of reasons. First of all, many family members assume greatness due to their name and lineage. It’s easy to see how that can happen. They grow up hearing stories about the founder’s vision, tenacity and accomplishments and they kind of fall into the trap of assuming all of those qualities were bestowed upon them at birth. We know that’s rarely the case.

The second reason it can happen is that deep down someone has a sense of insecurity, and so they overcompensate by acting as if they are the superstar, when in fact they are not.

These situations have far reaching implications to the family business. I’ve seen family members heading up key parts of the family business such as sales or finance, when they don’t have great skills in those areas. Having an underperformer in any area of a business can be potentially fatal to the business. Additionally, having an underperformer in a key role can be disheartening to other members of the team.

When you combine that situation with someone strutting around like a superstar, when in fact they are an underperformer, the effect can be downright embarrassing.

If you work with us at all, you will know that all of our family business coaching revolves around creating role definitions and results based upon the best practices of great companies.

Many family business people have convinced themselves they are great based upon their own scorecard. When we bring objectivity and business best practice measurements to the situation, it creates an opening for honest dialogue about improving family business performance.

Let’s go back to the underperformer. You want to create a safe, non-threatening environment where people embrace honesty and performance improvement. Lots of people kid themselves about their greatness, but strong, healthy family businesses face performance head on in healthy and objective ways.

Find a way to steer the family toward looking at performance, based upon best practices, and you will be on the way to improving the situation. Sometimes as coaches we can say things to people that no one else can say to them.

Leave a Reply