What about the Good? (as opposed to the Bad and the Ugly)

Business Leader Post, May 8, 2013

Thomas D. Davidow, Ed.D.

I was talking with a colleague today about the unique qualities of family businesses. Naturally, we went right to the difficulties family businesses face and the stories that go along with them. We spent a lot of time talking about the bad and the ugly, but we did not talk about the good.

Professional Advisors need to move away from a model that mirrors the traditional medical model where all we talk about is what is wrong and ignore a lot of what is good about owning a family business. We need to recognize the strengths of our clients and talk to them about those strengths as well. Giving positive feedback is helpful and supportive. We need to adopt a holistic approach where all the attributes of families who are working together are articulated. The better family members feel about themselves, the easier it is for them to hear the difficult message.

Trust, loyalty, commitment, values, long term thinking, a shared common history are just a few qualities that family businesses can be proud of. Public companies and large, privately owned non-family companies spend fortunes trying to create an environment and a business culture that family businesses already have available for free.