Recently, we presented a half-day family business seminar focused on the unique challenges family businesses face when it comes to ownership transition and leadership succession. The seminar was a healthy mix of presentations, panel discussions, and Q&A, along with some time for networking and idea-sharing among the attendees.
One of the panels was a group of dynamic next generation leaders. It was interesting to learn how diverse the panelists were in terms of their backgrounds and experiences. Each next generation leader carried their own level of individualism. Yet they shared one very important attribute: they all took control of their own personal and professional development.
The development activities they talked about ranged from pursuing advanced degrees such as an MBA to participating in outside peer groups like Leadership Labs and Vistage. They also spend time serving on internal family boards. These activities have helped them navigate the types of situations that are unique to family businesses, such as managing family member employment and interacting with parents and siblings at work. But it is important to point out that each panelist said that they proactively approached their companies and asked to participate in these various activities, rather than sitting back and waiting for someone or something to come to them. They recognized the importance of taking charge of their own career development.
One sentiment that was shared by all the panelists was that they feel like they are in a fishbowl - constantly being observed by everyone in the organization. So they all feel a sense of obligation to prove that they have earned the positions they are in because of their abilities, and not because of their last names. Being in the driver’s seat when it comes to their personal and professional development has helped each of our panelists to not only demonstrate their commitment to their family, but also to the business and the employees that they will one day lead.
If you missed our October 30 seminar and are interested in receiving a copy of the video from the presentations, please contact me.