Taking Over the Family Business

Taking Over the Family Business

One doesn’t often think about the importance of professional development when a new generation of leadership is making the transition to helm a family business. It’s an essential step for leadership success, always, but the self-initiating nature of the kind of role often means that skill growth gets somewhat overlooked. So, to help inbound leaders, we’ve compiled several handy tips to take into consideration while making the ascent.


Knowledge and Vision Differ

Most people that are about to take over their family’s business already have a large amount of firsthand experience about the innerworkings of the company. That’s a great foundation for continuing what is already being done, but it doesn’t provide much in the way of strategic planning or a pathway forward toward growth. Therefore, it would be advisable to connect with consultants, financial planners, and possibly invest in formal education regarding long-term business planning.


Overreliance on Predecessors

For new leaders, the preceding generation of leadership is a readily available crutch when problems arise. This can be a problem because the second generation is going to need to become comfortable enough in their role to solve problems on their own. One way to achieve this is to build a trusted network of advisors beyond the first-generation predecessors. This network should include industry mentors and commissioned partners such as attorneys, accountants, etc., to provide targeted guidance in challenging times.


Gather Input about Culture

Whether the incoming leader has been a regular fixture at the family business or not, they should still enter the role equipped with team building skills and an idea about how they can shape the company’s culture. For more perspectives, new leaders could turn to the company’s existing employees to form a steering committee. This kind of back-and-forth feedback between employees and company leaders is great for strengthening teams and building the kind of culture employees want.


Administrative Responsibilities

The behind-the-scenes aspects to running a business are often less apparent to second-generation leaders than the customer-facing ones. Also, first-generation leaders tend to focus on these areas less than the fun parts of running a business. That’s why it’s very important for new leaders to have a basic understanding of administrative responsibilities like scheduling, human resources, vendor relationships, and all of the other black-and-white activities that make a business run. They don’t need a full-on business degree, but experience working in a corporate environment or even a few courses on management would be a big help.


Be Adaptive

Adaptability and flexibility are soft skills that will be crucial for taking over the leadership of a family business. New leaders are stepping into a role with a pre-established course that was started by someone else’s vision. It’ll be their job to build upon this track record, which may mean certain components of this vision should be preserved. So, to improve their flexibility, new leaders may want to consider training to augment skills like emotional intelligence, organization, and ways to successfully operate outside of one’s comfort zone.


Confidence Will Come

There is certainly a lot of responsibility placed on the shoulders of incoming family business leaders, but the good news is that all of the required skillsets needed for the job can be developed over time. Confidence will come as challenges are surmounted. As long as a second-generation leader commits to continued education and the development of their own professional skillsets, they’ll be successful as they lead their family business into the next chapter of its history.

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