One of the most common family business challenges is developing and growing the next generation of business leaders. For many of the family business participants, it’s difficult to create your own leadership identity within the shadow of a strong and incumbent CEO. In many cases the CEO is your father or mother, which makes it even more difficult.
What surprises me is how young people miss the opportunity to develop leadership in other arenas. Developing leadership skills outside the business should be an important part of the succession planning process and next generation planning.
I’ve seen how impactful it can be when an “up and comer” family business participant gains recognition and a follower-ship outside of the family business; their confidence and ability as a leader grows exponentially.
There are many opportunities to develop your leadership identity outside the family business. Civic organizations, charitable foundations, community service projects and industry associations all present opportunities to distinguish yourself as a leader out from under the shadow of your CEO.
Being respected and followed outside of the family business can be a great source of personal satisfaction and confidence that can later be used within the family business.
Do you think you are a leader?
Do you think you’re as good as your dad or mom as a leader?
Do you think you have the same leadership style as them or a different style?
Do you think people will follow you?
Do you think they’ll follow you even if you don’t have the right last name?
All of these important leadership questions can be answered now and they can be answered outside your family business. Don’t wait for your CEO to someday let you be the leader! Go on and start being a leader right now in other venues.
Here’s a hint for you. Don’t try to replicate mom or dad’s leadership style – it won’t work. Endeavor to develop your own unique style based upon your own inherent strengths and your own current worldview. Study other leaders. Find leaders outside of your business who you admire and aspire to be like.
Developing your leadership brand can be one of the most important and rewarding aspects of your career and your life. Go outside your business to develop your leadership voice and in turn you’ll dramatically increase the likelihood for your family business’s success and your own personal success!