In my work, over the last two decades, serving successful multigenerational family businesses across the globe, there has been one common recurring theme—one paramount “elephant in the room” that all parents, regardless of culture, creed, race, or ethnicity have: “How do I as a parent prepare my children and future generations to handle the wealth I have spent a lifetime accumulating or stewarding?
When asked what “Prepared” means or even what it looks like, they have a difficult time articulating or putting into practical terms what to do or have in place in order to do this ‘preparing thing’.
What I have discerned and objectively concluded–through my research and work with families over the last 18 years — as the most pressing, vital questions are…
How do I ensure my children will be harmonious family members, contributing leaders, and responsible owners?
How do I ensure my children grow up to be mature enough to one day have a leadership role in the business and/or an ownership stake?
How do I know the children are even interested, let alone committed?
Stepping into leadership and/or ownership roles in a family business is daunting and frightening. It is like taking over parenting someone else’s baby — it has been theirs for so long, there is pressure in stepping into a new parent role when the outgoing parent is sitting right next to you. There tends to be a number of feelings which come up for the NxtGen — anxiety, doubt, fear, apprehension, excitement, bewilderment. What they do not realize is that these feelings are actually right. Their response to the feelings is what matters most and changes everything.
As these feelings surface, the NxtGen typically have no one to talk to about what is coming up for them — all the while wanting to make the senior generation proud, while trying to convince them they are fully capable and ready for this massive endeavour. Essentially, they are playing the role while burying the reality of their own insecurities.
From the top-down, each generation tier has apprehensions in the preparation trajectory and wise transition of responsibility and equity — but they never address it or face it head-on, and the relationships, all of them, suffer rather than growing from it.
While the past and current generation in power question their role in preparing the next, the NxtGen is silently being tormented over questions confronting the exact same thing…
Do I have what it takes to step into the role?
Am I even REALLY interested, let alone committed to the journey?
What is the journey? How do I get equipped and ready? Where do I start?
Developing and outlining a process/roadmap for NxtGen readiness is critical for the longevity and continuity of any Family business legacy. Next-generation dynamics and readiness, when clarified and developed, help the family business to work better, develop and thrive in the present — because everyone knows where they are going.
To know where we are going, we must FIRST know where we are.
The first step is AWARENESS of self.
Emotional intelligence trumps intellectual education.
How well do I know myself? How well do I understand why I do what I do. Why I react as I do. What is actually driving my actions and reactions? Have I been on autopilot and not even known.
As I tell my clients, “Everything we do, we do for a reason!” Yet, MOST of us have NO IDEA what that reason is. We do not know what our own emotional drivers are., and the impact of these on our decision making.
The roadmap for NxtGen readiness must START with the NxtGen developing their own AWARENESS of why they do what they do. If they do not “get” their why they do what they do, the business will be in danger of being in the wrong hands of someone who is not emotionally equipped to handle the pressure and rewards of family wealth.
If you want to prepare the NxtGen for ownership and leadership roles, allow them to start by increasing their self-awareness.
Nearly 20 years and dozens of global influencing families have proven, when families empower the NxtGen in this way, they become the harmonious family members, contributing leaders, and responsible owners that each other generation wants to ensure they will be.