Throwback Thursday

When the Owner has a Distorted View of Reality

What are the elements of great owners (and great leaders)? According to Platinum Group’s Bill English, great leaders understand that their thoughts and ideas are not infallible and that they have room to grow – and need to grow if their business is going to get to the next level. They grow by letting others challenge the following areas: their job performance, their logic in reaching conclusions, their natural isolation and their tendency to blame others for their company’s problems.

In other words, owners grow through accountability versus a distorted view of reality.

As a family business advisor with a focus on conflict resolution, leadership development and positive successions, Bill has often seen the common threads of a distorted view of reality. Read his blog post below for more insights into this common “disconnect” in family businesses.

Susan is the 2nd generation CEO of their family business. Her father is a private, untrusting and demanding man who built a $90M business. Because she grew up in the family business and has not worked elsewhere, when her dad named her the CEO (out of four siblings), she started to manage just like her father: not sharing information with anyone and routing most decisions through her office. She simply tells her siblings to “sign this” and expects them, as Board members, to sign documents at her directive. She pays herself over twice what her siblings earn and she keeps their compensations secret from their parents and each other. To resist her directives is tantamount to questioning her authority and competence. She thinks her parents and siblings should simply trust her every decision. This is what the family did for her father, so why should it be different for her now that she is in charge?

Susan has a distorted view of reality. It’s simply not realistic to think her siblings are going to step aside and let her run the show while keeping their mouths shut. That isn’t how functional families work. She’s not going to be successful being secretive and highly controlling. She’s going to need to share information and learn to trust those around her if their business is going to grow and prosper more than it has in the last 10 years. What worked for her dad isn’t going to work... MORE

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