Family-owned and managed companies face an added layer of emotional complexity in the workplace. Employees often have to work with people they are closely related to and have a private relationship with, or as non-family members are faced with the consequences of family relationships; the good and the bad. Families are often advised to try and leave their emotions outside the business. However, many of the family business model’s greatest advantages stem exactly from the close emotional ties between family members. They can foster trust, fast decision-making, employee loyalty, and long-term commitment to the company vision. Instilling a higher degree of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) can support the family business in taking advantage of its unique characteristics while making sure the company is run professionally.

Here are six actions that can lead to an increase in EQ in the family business or at least get the discussion started.


The journey to heightening EQ starts with the individual. It is important that everyone is willing to self-asses his or her ability to empathise with others and understand his or her own emotional reactions.


It is important to approach emotions like anything else in the business – with structure. Mapping out the web of relationships that are involved in daily business processes can help identify emotional responses to look out for and avoid conflicts.


There is nothing quite like an unbiased third party to even out the playing field. In order to increase EQ it can help the business family to get a coach or mentor involved. The unbiased third party can trigger conversations that are necessary to make people realise where they stand.