Losing in the family business – be right but have no team

business-man-big-jumpMany of the family business entrepreneurs we work with are very strong minded individuals who have had a lot of success in the business.  Their success further strengthens their position that their way is the right way.

The problem is there’s been an ongoing trend over the past several years of people wanting to have autonomy – the ability to make their own decisions and add their own individual fingerprints to their work.

For the stubborn family business entrepreneur this seems like a bad direction.  I hear things like “Why fix it if it isn’t broken?  Why would we possibly want to do things differently when we’ve had such success with our current way of doing it?”

I have a client right now I’m working with who has been struggling with this dilemma for quite some time.  He continues to “be right” and continues to run off talented and hard-working people who would love to help the company move forward.

And truthfully, this guy is extremely smart and knows the business well.  Many of his ideas are great ideas.

I keep reminding him that if he wants it all to be done with his ideas he may be a leadership team of one.  He knows he wants to someday successfully transition the business and I have to give him a dose of reality with the fact that if he doesn’t start letting other people do things in their own unique way they will never stick around.

We’re a bit of a victim of the way we have raised the up and coming generation. We have encouraged them to be strong minded, confident and willing to speak their mind.

So the successful family business entrepreneur needs to find a way to gently straddle that line of letting people have a say in the matter but not allowing them to make decisions that will put the company at undue risk.

In family business coaching we teach the entrepreneurs how to use the Socratic method of teaching, mentoring and coaching to use their experience and expertise to ask better questions and do a better job of developing the younger generation.  When we teach the family business to create a coaching culture it accelerates development and communication and improves business results.

I know how hard it is to watch people make mistakes but ultimately it’s one of the best ways they really learn the lessons.  Remember you have a decision – you can be right and be a one man band or you can learn how to be a better mentor and build a great team and have a successful transition! Choose wisely!

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