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It is often said that having the right person for the job can make or break a business. A family firm is often faced with the reality that its success lies largely in the abilities of its family members. This means that sometimes, the family must deal with a mix of members who may or may not add much value to the business. However, the rewards of having the right family members in the right positions can be enormous, since they usually come with an extra measure of dedication to the firm. We have compiled a list of the 6 types of family members who are sure to benefit your family business:
1. The Mediator.
Conflict is natural and can occur in any relationship. In the family business it can be especially destructive because existing relationships between family members are so complex and intertwined. As a consequence, even small disagreements can easily poison both business and family dynamics. The Mediator is quick to identify relationship strains and is proactive in reconciling conflicts in a fair and healthy manner. Because he is capable of seeing the “big picture”, the Mediator can see past the differences and communicate a common goal to the warring fractions of the family. While this role may not be visible to the outsider, it is supremely valuable to the family and is crucial in maintaining a healthy family business.
2. The Risk Taker.
Family businesses are well known for fiscal prudence and long-term profitability, but can fall prey to time-consuming decision-making in their pursuit of preserving the legacy. Time is often limited, and business opportunities can pass by while families remain reluctant to make seemingly rash decisions. While more risk-averse and fiscally conservative family members might consider him to be reckless, the Risk Taker is a valuable voice that can guide the family to make smart and timely decisions. Making the right bets and investments can reap untold returns, and the Risk Taker is often in the best position to see the potential rewards and seize the opportunity.
3. The Pragmatist.
Running a family business can be a messy and complicated process. It requires setting up complex logistical chains, navigating legal pitfalls, managing the books, and operating cumbersome day-to-day tasks while balancing the emotional attachment of the family to the business. For many family members, the desire to focus purely on their craft or business specialty can be tempting. However, such a mindset can disrupt balance in the enterprise and cause fatal negligence. The Pragmatist has the ability to restore balance because he has the discipline to roll up his sleeves and take on tasks that others are quick to shun. He realises that certain tasks simply have to get done, and any attempt to push them off can only be detrimental to the business. While others might live with their head above the clouds, the Pragmatist plows forward with his feet firmly planted on the ground, and can be a true-life saver for the business and the family.
4. The Leader.
By definition, family business leadership is consolidated by way of succession and usually by birth order. This means that the family business leader has a greater responsibility in validating and proving his worth to lead, which is essential in not only instilling trust in the employees, but to the other members of the family as well. The Leader is set apart by his innate ability to truly understand his organisation and collectively inspire the best in everyone to march towards a unified goal. He realises that a leader is not the loudest voice in the room, but the one who wins hearts with vision and develop solutions that achieve real results. It’s important to remember that while every organisation has the potential to absorb several leaders, only a few members of the family may truly be fit to take on this role.
5. The Creative.
Family businesses are often unfairly labeled as being traditionalist and resistant to change. This is because many family businesses are centered on some unique specialty that carries over many generations, and family members are often reluctant to change the way things have always been done. While this has been a successful model for many families, it also makes them vulnerable in a fast changing world. The Creative can be a breath of fresh air that revitalises the business and delivers solutions that can completely reshape the enterprise’s future. The Creative is a valuable asset in that he can bring about this kind of change in whatever role or department he finds himself in the family business. Whether it’s accounting, sales, management, or logistics, the Creative is sure to leverage his refreshing perspectives to evolve the enterprise before your very eyes.
6. The Family Champion.
Family businesses’ impact on the global economy is second to none, and its success can be attributed to the key difference that separates it from any other business enterprise, the family. The element of family and its unique characteristics both positive and negative is what makes the family business so formidable. However, this family element is under constant siege as the trials and complexities of running the business takes a toll on the family members. The Family Champion fights to preserve and nurture this family element so that it doesn’t become neglected while everyone’s focus in on running the business. While the Family Champion is not always directly involved in the enterprise, his singular belief that family comes first and his drive to do whatever is necessary to keep the family together supports the business in immeasurable ways. Whether it’s the uncle that hosts the family barbecues or the mother who brings the family together for dinner every night, the Family Champion is truly the unsung hero in the family business.