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It all depends on what family means to you.

Most people have grown up as part of a family and so know first-hand that as well as being a haven of safety and security, they can also be dysfunctional and a hotbed of history and issues. We can all agree that that’s no way to run a business.

The world’s economy is made up of a high proportion of family owned and managed enterprises. Family businesses were the very first type of business to exist, making logical and economic sense. However, they can also be the most challenging.

It’s not surprising then that by the third generation of family working in the business things can start to fall apart. As well as the usual business challenges, these businesses will carry the burden of a family dynamic full of emotion, inference, history, allegiances, interference, wealth, legacy and many more!

These so called ‘soft’ issues are the ones that will have the most impact on the chances of success or failure and are the toughest to deal with.

Going beyond the obvious is critical in today’s world and the key to this is alignment – of individuals, groups, family if applicable, the business, the external world and the overall purpose.

So instead let’s ask what the essential attributes of a great family are. These include, but are not limited to:  



Security and sense of belonging 

Open and honest communication  

Making each family member feel important, valued, respected and esteemed  

Whether yours is a family business or not, the above still apply and it’s crucial to understand how they impact on a business’ performance.  

So ask yourself:

1. How does your behaviour impact Culture?
Although colleagues may all be pulling in the same direction, we are all fundamentally different. What some may consider to be acceptable behaviour, others may not. For example, if colleagues feel their ideas are dismissed without proper consideration or their role is diminished and not valued you will close down potentially valuable insight.

2. How clear are your communications and expectations?
Have you taken the time to assess and create your vision? Has it been communicated, and have you taken a step back to ensure that everyone understands?

3. Is your business a positive and creative environment that builds safety and trust for growth?
Do you run an annual colleague survey to identify areas of praise and concern? Does your company reward colleagues for behaviours that foster trust and respect?   

These three questions (and answers) are a starting point for a little bit of business navel gazing and it may be that you can expand on all of the above. What we’re certain about though is that Culture is key and without it taking centre stage you, and your business, are vandalising the family heirloom. 

To access tools that will help your business harness the best of family dynamics, visit