Family business
client story

Sharing a dream. Uniting a family.

When a multinational manufacturing firm expanded to the USA, its founder – a healthy man in his 70s – was faced with major issues. Significant debt, an uncertain future and tense family relationships, to name a few.

The challenges of a family business

The company was a second-generation family business that manufactured industrial products in Australia and Asia. Although his children and grandchildren held senior positions in the company, the founder was struggling to let go of control. There were several reasons:

He was uncertain about his future role

His successors were unprepared, which was leading to inefficiency and poor performance

The CEO (his grandson) had an authoritarian leadership style

The Board and senior executive team didn’t trust or respect the CEO.

The conflict among generations was making the company inflexible, placing staff under pressure – and straining family relationships.

Creating a brighter future for the company… and the family

As their executive coach, I worked closely with the family for several years across multiple levels:

With the founder and his wife: I spent quality time with the couple to help them resolve their apprehension about letting go. This included creating and communicating a new role for the founder.

With the CEO: I advised the CEO on how to align his leadership style with the company’s culture. I also helped him win the confidence of the Board and senior executive team.

With the rest of the family: I supported other relatives as they took on new roles and larger responsibilities. This involved redistributing leadership and creating seamless transitions.

A valuable lesson

Having worked with many wealthy families, I know how letting go, stepping up and accepting change can take time. I also understand that it often involves many people – and a deliberate effort.

Unity, leadership and a shared dream. These are the keys to effective succession in family businesses.