What is family business about if it is not about the next generation? John L. Ward asked in his book “50 Lessons to perpetuate Family Businesses”. And, if the key issue in family business is the education of the next generation, why is it so that many adults badly neglect parenting?
Family Businesses are not a good example for a fine balance between work and life. Unconsciously, founders develop workaholic attitudes that are thus transmitted to their children. Sibling teams in second generation family businesses tend to inherit this way of behaving too. Spouses and In-laws are deeply affected by the way the business absorbs their counterparts, and thus, transmit to their children an unpleasant image of the family business. Certainly one that is not attractive to anybody. In conclusión, when you do not balance work and life well, parenting does not take place, and when parenting does not take place the continuity of the family business is at stake.
Parents in the most successful family firms keep their attention on parenting. In family we learn better than in any other place:
• the basis of communication
• the attitudes to reach consensus
• the importance of fairness and justice for others
• to think ouside of our own interests
• to forgive and be forgiven
• the neutral character of wealth
An effective parentig attitude needs a family first philosophy which recognizes that family members can share interests other than the business, and enjoy one another and have fun together because they are a family apart from the business. It is important to make enough room for our families.
In family and through your parents and brothers you learn the fundamentals of governance too. Harry F. Martin in his article “Is Family Governance an Oxymoron?”, defined good parenting as the bedrock framework that a family must establish before good governance can occur. To explain the necessity of good parenting he uses the following analogy. “Imagine trying to transplant our democratic social political system to a country with no history of respect for human rights or individual expression, no experience with any form of stable government except chaotic, despotic rule, and no history of working together to postpone immediate self-gratification for longer term mutual gain to society. Without long preparatory effort, our democratic model would never get off the ground in such a country because the cultural-political background required to sustain it is missing”. Then Martin concludes that good parenting means that certain values are present before a family governance plan can be executed.
So parenting is not only the last, but the first frontier of family business management too. Being so relevant, families in business must give their attention to proper ways to have a life long education on family and parenting for all their family members. Family Councils and/or Education Committees have a role to play in planning, programming and executing educational formats to develop good parenting skills among their family members.
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