How Do You Distinguish the Role of Father From the Role of Boss in the Family Owned Business?

Business Leader Post, November 29, 2012

Thomas D. Davidow, Ed.D.

I once heard a great story from a son in a family owned business. He described himself as a person who at one time considered his position in the family business as a right versus a privilege. He didn’t follow the rules. He came in late. He didn’t take his job as seriously as he should have. But he always came in on time on Fridays because Friday was pay day.

One day the long standing secretary told him that his father had his pay check and wanted to see him at his house. When he got there, his father was taking a dip in the pool and asked his son to join him. The son was pretty excited. He thought that his father might have some good news for him. He jumped in and then noticed that his father had on a Daniel Boone hat. At the top of the hat, there was a button that said “BOSS.”

The father explained that he had not fulfilled his expectations as a contributing employee and consequently was fired. The son sank into the water for a minute and then stood up to see that the father had turned the hat around. There was another button on it that read “DAD.”

His father said, “Son, I understand that you just lost your job, is there anything I can do to be helpful?”