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What Happens When There Are Multiple Successors and the Eldest is not the Best Qualified?

In many, if not most, family owned businesses, there seems to be at least one member of the next generation who wants to take a crack at being Number One.  What happens when there are multiple successors and the eldest is not the best qualified? 

The wrong choice can, and probably will, have devastating consequences on future family harmony and business success.   Picking a successor simply because (s)he is the eldest or rejecting someone based on gender can be fatal.  Unfortunately, we still see far too many businesses being lead by incompetent sons when highly competent daughters were stereotyped into inferior roles. 

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One Simple Way to Give Your Business a Morale Boost

For the past several months, we have awakened to a steady stream of depressing bad news regarding the economy. Retirement plans have turned from 401(k)s to 201(k)s, people are getting laid off, companies are desperate for bailouts and the list goes on. There is no doubt we are in extremely difficult economic times. If your employees are like others I have recently encountered in other organizations, they are in wonderment about whether they will have a job tomorrow and what the financial implications could be to their families. Have you reassured your employees lately?

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Down Economy...Could This Be the Opportunity of a Lifetime?

There is no question, we are in one of the most difficult economies we have faced in decades with oil prices through the roof, rising steel prices, housing market collapse, inflation concerns, political uncertainty, and the list goes on. Surely I do not have to elaborate any further as your business is likely feeling the impact. A decline in profitability is almost never a good thing…that is, unless you are looking to transfer equity in your business to a family member. This indeed could be an opportunity of a lifetime!

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Business and Family Success - Can You Have Both?

One of the mantras around our offices concerns the health of interpersonal relationships in a family owned business.  It’s quite simple, and I really like it.  Are you ready?  Here it is:  No business success is worth a family failure.

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that everyone’s family, my own included, experiences some level of dysfunction.  It can be anywhere from somewhat comical to outright tragic.  Imagine reaching a high level of business and financial success only to learn that your spouse wants a divorce and your children don’t want to be around you. 

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Likability or Accountability - Do You Have the Right People Driving Your Organization?

In my last post, "Effective Leadership - Are Your People Loyal to You or Your Vision," I discussed the idea that there are several businesses with which I’m currently working that are performing and several that are not. The difference between the two is that they either have a culture of likability or a culture of accountability. The immediate differences between the two suggested differences in leadership, people, and focus on results.

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Employee Appreciation - What Message Are You Communicating?

Apathy, skepticism and disgust are sentiments shared by millions of Americans as a result of the greed and selfishness pervading our society today. For some, it is definitely all about the money even if generating business profits is at the expense of others. Others see money and profitability as a measuring stick/scorecard of how well they are leading and operating their businesses or how many lives they are impacting through their businesses. So I ask, which category do you find yourself in?

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Recipe for Success

Recently I had the privilege of attending a business Hall of Fame induction ceremony in the Midwest for one of my clients and several other business owners and leaders in his community. While each of the inductees had diverse business experiences and backgrounds, they shared several common traits which include: developing and articulating their vision, passion, humility, supportive families, winning attitude, innovative, surrounded themselves with the right people and promoted teamwork. These individuals knew where they wanted to go and were relentless in their pursuit to achieve excellence in their business and also giving back to their community. After hearing each of the individuals speak, it was apparent to me that the common traits listed above could be a recipe for success in your business as well.

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Effective Leadership - Are Your People Loyal To You Or Your Vision?

I have worked with three business leaders recently who are struggling with performance of their business during this economic downturn. I have also worked with several who are having record years during the same economic downturn. All of these businesses have a few things in common – they are all in the same industry and have similar business models. So, why are some performing and some not performing?

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Are You Caught In The Right "Wonderloop" for Driving Business Growth for Your Business?

More than a few years ago, several of us would record music segments and splice them together to create what we called a “wonderloop.” Sometimes the only wonder was why we did it in the first place.

After getting involved in the business world, I discovered that the wonderloop concept was transferable. In business, it wasn’t music or sounds that I wanted playing over and over. It was product or service performance.

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4 Steps for Improving Decision Making and Business Performance

Recently, a CEO friend was ranting about the poor judgment shown by her senior management team. “What I need around here,” she said, “are some good problem solvers and decision makers.” She used several more minutes to vent; and then she asked for my thoughts.

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Compensation Plans for Family Member Employees

Most parents contend they love all their children equally, so naturally they want to treat them equally (which I can appreciate as a parent of three boys). However, there is a distinction that should be made regarding an equal estate distribution and equal compensation. Let’s face it, every person is blessed with a unique personality, unique talents and unique skill sets. Furthermore, every individual is motivated by different things. Doesn’t it stand to reason that individuals (including family members) should be compensated based upon what they do rather than who they are? I submit to you they should!

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Think You're Too Young To Begin Succession Planning - What You Should Know That May Change Your Mind

Translation: “I am bullet proof and have no intention of dying prematurely”, “I am not interested in enhancing business productivity, profitability and teamwork”, “The business is all about me” and “I am not interested in protecting the value of my business and the welfare of my family”. Do you realize that when you state you are too young to begin succession planning this is what you are actually saying? Think about it!

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Have You Fallen for One of the Biggest Succession Planning Misconceptions?

How many of you actually believe that you indeed “have it all done” when it comes to your business succession plan? Come on, be truthful. I know there are some of you who believe in your mind’s eye that you have done all you can to successfully transition your business. Many of your predecessors felt the same way you do, but the statistics speak for themselves: approximately 33% of family owned businesses succeed from the first generation to the second and approximately 10% successfully make it from the second generation to the third. The truth is, when it comes to business succession planning, there is no such thing as “having it all done” just like there is no such thing as achieving perfection. There is always something else to do!

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How to Build Management Team Synergy Focused on a Common Vision

My wife and I recently celebrated 15 years of marital bliss. A part of the festivities of celebrating this mile marker were spent watching the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, an event that always reminds me of how much I love music – all kinds of music, from classical to punk rock. I even have a special place in my heart for country music. As most extracurricular activities become an introspective undertaking for me, this experience watching the ASO was no different. Music really is amazing because there are only seven basic notes and all of the amazing variety of music falls within that seven-note range. There is no music that falls outside that range. It is truly amazing.

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How to Build High Performing Teams With Well-Defined Roles and Responsiblities

 In my last post, A Common Vision, I mentioned that I recently experienced the joy of watching the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra perform. I took away from that event several powerful illustrations of high performance teams. Apart from having a common vision and subordinating individual talents to those of the team for the purpose of exceptional performance, there are several other things I observed. High performance teams are characterized by having crystal clear roles and responsibilities. The orchestra was a great illustration of this trait.

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Business Growth - How to Leverage What You Already Have

The seeds for The New Marketing Method were first sown by a Frenchman known as Voltaire in 1759. Voltaire ended a short novel called Candide with these words: “… we must go and work our garden.” Think of that garden as your current customer/client base.

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How to Be a Better Leader Using Both Your Positional and Personal Power

Today, let’s talk about how you brand your use of power and influence within your business and/or within your family.

To begin, you should know that, for many years, I have maintained that the use of power and influence is at least the skeletal definition of leadership. Many have suggested that somehow the “intention” or the “outcome” also has to be considered; but, personally, I believe that gives leadership a moral connotation that is more properly the responsibility of the individual using leadership rather than leadership itself. I guess that’s another way of saying that some people give leadership a bad name.

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5 Keys for Business Growth In Tough Economic Times

The question is, however, what does destiny look like? As I write this, I expect that the Dow will open below 7,000 for the first time in more than a decade. The S&P and the NASDAQ have also cratered but not yet bottomed. If I were “Chicken Little,” I would be saying that the sky is falling.

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Family Dynamics and Business Performance - How Closely Are They Related?

In my previous two posts, "How to Find Balance Between Family and Business"  and "How to Achieve Balance Between the Family and the Business," I discussed two of the three steps great and enduring families engage in:

  1. They establish balance between family and business priorities.

  2. They work hard to convey this balance to and through the next generation.

  3. They pursue Succession Success.

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How to Achieve Balance Between the Family and Business

In my last post, "How to Find Balance Between Family and Business," I suggested that there are three things that great and enduring family businesses do:

  1. They are dedicated to creating a balance between family and business priorities.

  2. They proactively encourage and are dedicated to the family’s cohesive, supportive values that promote family and business balance.

  3. They achieve Succession Success.

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