“Oh, I’m just so tired of this. I want the business to continue, but I don’t want to be bothered with it anymore.” These words, recently voiced by a client, came out of addressing family dynamics that are impacting business decisions. There are a multitude of reasons to not address family relationship dynamics as they are impacted by the business and, conversely, they impact the business. True family leaders don’t cower in the face of these family challenges because they understand that their greatest asset is their family members. Instead, they boldly engage the family in dialogue and interactions that can at times be emotionally trying and nearly impossible to navigate.

There are several common reasons business owners fail to address family issues, including, but not limited to:

  1. Failure to prioritize family,
  2. Attitude of “don’t mess with success,”
  3. Image Management – fear of what others will think if issues are revealed,
  4. Fear of family dysfunction or conflict,
  5. Belief that the family is fragile and can’t handle the truth,
  6. Faulty belief that avoidance of conflict and peace are synonymous, and
  7. Inauthenticity – usually a fear of being truly known.

The painful truth to be reckoned with is that family issues end up driving business decisions, thereby throwing the family business out of balance. One of the keys to striking a balance in making a successful business and enduring business is developing and maintaining respect for the sanctity of the family and a commitment to achieving an appropriate equilibrium between family and business priorities. To develop this idea further, a great and enduring family business is one that proactively works at strengthening the family and is characterized by the following qualities:

  1. It is dedicated to creating a balance between family and business priorities.
  2. It proactively encourages and is dedicated to the family’s cohesive, supportive values that promote family and business balance.
  3. It achieves Succession Success.

A family cannot run like a business, and, conversely, a business cannot run like a family. A great family business recognizes the inherent differences in these two opposing environments and effectively addresses the priorities of both. They are able to identify, establish, and maintain healthy boundaries between the two entities. In other words, they work hard in both environments being ever mindful of the environment in which they are currently operating. Family business leaders don’t stop working when they get home from the office. Rather, they transition into a different leadership role. And the lines of demarcation between the two opposing environments of business and family are rarely, if ever, blurred. 

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