What is Leadership? What is Leadership in a Family business? Family business success is based on Leadership. Succession planning, strategy in a family owned business needs a leader.
One definition is “Leadership is the professed desire and commitment to serve others by subordinating personal interests to the needs of those being led through effectively demonstrating the character, experience, humility, wisdom and discernment necessary to create the trust & influence to cause the right things, to happen for the right reasons, at the right times.”
A recent television special shared the experiences, insights and challenges of the “Gatekeepers” the White House Chief of Staff. The White House Chief of Staff is the highest ranking employee of the White House Office inside the Executive Office of the President of the United States. The duties of White House Chief of Staff vary greatly from one administration to another, and in fact, there is no legal requirement that the President even fill the position. However, since at least 1979, all Presidents have found the need for a Chief of Staff, who typically oversees the actions of the White House staff, manages the president’s schedule, and decides who is allowed to meet with the president. Because of these duties, the Chief of Staff has at various times been labeled “The Gatekeeper”, or “The Power behind the Throne”.
One of the Chiefs said, “Presidents are force to make choices between bad and worse, because the easy decisions don’t come to Leaders.”There are many one liners, quotable quotes:
- Peter Drucker: “The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers.”
- Warren Bennis: “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”
- Bill Gates: “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”
- Larry Page: “My job as a leader is to make sure everybody in the company has great opportunities, and that they feel they’re having a meaningful impact and are contributing to the good of society.”
- John Maxwell: “Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.”
Some writers list 5, or 10 leadership skills:
Be Trustworthy, Ignite Passion, Walk Naked, Make Change Look Easy, Take a Vacation, Motivate People, Have Ethics, Balance Ego, Be a Great Teacher and Channel Dysfunctional Habits.
The one that made me scratch my head, were Walk Naked. Being naked as a leader is letting go of the facade and being you. You might be thinking, does that mean I tell people everything? No. Do I let my employees see me sweat? We want to balance that competitive edge that “being you” brings to the table – a manner in which we are authentic and real to other people. –
Recently working with a family business on both an exit strategy and succession planning for some key leaders we learned:
- the leader is highly respected
- the leader sets the direction
- The leader tracks progress.
The other family members respect and follow his direction. This is a major positive. The Wharton School has done a number of studies on family business and conflict. Some causes of conflict in family firms include future strategies, performance issues of family members in the business and reinvesting profits. Leaders deliver; they set the agenda, resource the team and insure the family business puts the points in the board.