After years of talking to family business families, one topic that comes up often is support, or should I say lack of support.
When it comes right down to it, what most people want is to feel supported. Sadly, we often struggle to learn how to be supportive of our family members.
Learning to express and provide support can be a foundational building block to having a strong and healthy relationship.
Why Aren’t We More Supportive?
I find, in many families, there is a bit of cynicism or frustration about giving more support. I hear things like, “Believe me I’ve tried.”
“I’ve done so much for them over the years, I finally gave up.”
You Can Continue to Be More Supportive in Other Ways
If you feel you have been supportive, yet the other person hasn’t seemed to have made the most of that support, that doesn’t mean you should stop. Certainly, you may dial down your support and use an old saying we use in coaching… “You can’t want it more than the client.”
In other words, you can’t want change for someone more than they want it.
Back to providing support.
Other ways to be supportive are to encourage them to engage in personal counseling, life coaching, and personal development seminars. Also, give them the time away from the business to pursue those tools.
Another way to provide support is to simply have a humble, warm, compassionate heart for people who struggle to produce results, build relationships or build a successful sustainable life.
My colleague, a highly regarded counselor, said something years ago that always stuck with me. He said, “Pete, trust me, no one gets up in the morning and says to themselves, ‘How can I be totally annoying or a pain in the ass to everyone today?’ They simply lack the resourcefulness or skills to be more effective. They’re not doing it on purpose.”
My Family Business Experience
I was just reading the letters my grandfather wrote to his brother nearly 100 years ago in our family business. My grandfather continued to encourage my great uncle to be more consistent, more professional, and deliver better results for the business.
It’s one of the most intriguing mysteries of my life as to why some people have a hard time producing results. Yet, I still want to bring an encouraging, warm heart to every situation. I continue to encourage everyday and look for new tools and techniques to help people move past their inherent limitations.
In my grandfather’s case, he “pruned the family tree” and eventually exited his brother out of the business. That is another form of support – helping someone build their off ramp out of the family business.
Please continue to be supportive, courageous and compassionate with all of your family members. In my next blog, I will give you some specific techniques and questions for providing more support. In the meantime… play to your potential!
Pete Walsh offers family business consulting services, workshops, tools and resources as the founder of the Family Business Performance Center. Subscribe to his newsletter or get in touch to get actionable insights to help your family business grow for generations to come.
This exercise and many more are in my Family Business Playbook to help your family win!