Myths and Mortals: Family Business Leadership and Succession Planning

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FBN Forum Event: Myths and Mortals: Family Business Leadership and Succession Planning, presented by Andrew Keyt, head of the FBN Chapter in North America;

ANDREW KEYT is the Executive Director of the Family Business Center at Loyola University Chicago’s Quinlan School of Business, one of the world’s leading educational organizations for family businesses. Andrew joined the FBN Ireland Forum event to share some of his own experiences as a 3rd Generation Family Business owner, and also to discuss some of the research which is contained in his recently published book. Andrew opened his session by telling his own story, highlighting some of the challenges he faced when stepping into his father’s shoes as head of the family business rater unexpectedly.

Then, drawing on the research and ideas covered in his book, Andrew outlined how successors can establish credibility, win the loyalty of those working in the family company and take charge without sacrificing their own leadership style. During his presentation, Andrew provided some meaningful insights and strategies for successors of family businesses.

Following his introduction Andrew led a number of interactive sessions with the 50+ FBN members and guests in the room to further develop his ideas and to provide attendees an opportunity to discuss their own experiences around succession to the family business. Following feedback after each break-out session, Andrew noted that the stories / experiences in the room can all add value.

Post Event – Key Points

  • Successor’s curse – people think the next generation is there because of their last name. Credibility does not come from your name- it must be earned.
  • Each generation has to figure out what needs to happen next- to develop a sense of awareness and have different opinions and views to that of their parents. Successors can bring different strengths to the table, which may not be the same as previous generations.
  • A common mistake is when the Next Generation takes decisions to try to make their parents happy.
  • The discussion on succession should happen early – both parties (current and next generation) need to express their expectations and consideration should be given to the career path of the next generation.
  • The stories about how previous generations ran the business can cast a shadow
  • Sometimes it is necessary to protect the business from the family – but both must be given due consideration. Consider how to make the family an asset for the business and not a liability.

  • Failure is at the heart of success- do not give up because of a failure experience – For example, Andrew told the story of how Walt Disney was once fired for lack of imagination.

  • It is important to keep the older generation meaningfully connected to the business- in a way that benefits them and benefits the business.

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