Balancing the New and Old Guards in the Family Business


The client was the newly appointed Chief Executive in a family owned manufacturing business. He was the third generation leader – the business had been founded by his grandfather. When he completed his studies, the client had deliberately spent several years working in another industry to enable him to move into the CEO role with some fresh ideas.  Unfortunately, this meant he had a need to re-establish his credibility amongst the family, all of whom had only worked in the business.

Coaching goal

Assist the client to establish proper control over the business while keeping the family together.
Person in Black Pants and Black Shoes Sitting on Brown Wooden Chair
photography of people inside room during daytime


As in most family businesses, the more senior members tended to make (and break) their own rules and regarded the business as their own fiefdom. The client realized how inefficient this was, and also how it undermined his own authority when other family members made decisions or gave instructions which led to confusion amongst the workforce. There was a need for a clean break and a new start. Achieving this became the goal.

Coaching Outcome

The coaching focused firstly on the client defining what contribution he would like from each individual. This process also identified a number of the more senior members’ current behaviours which he wished to stop. The next step was to decide how to deal with each individual to introduce them to the new concept in a way that they would be receptive. This was a delicate task requiring considerable diplomacy. In parallel with these conversations, the client constructed a family ‘compact – a document which outlined everyone’s rights, roles and responsibilities. The final step was to convene and carefully orchestrate a family gathering at which the ‘compact’ was shared. After the carefully developed one to one conversations, the compact was approved by the family without any alteration. The client said “It has been a real success to establish proper control over the business while keeping the family together. I am now in a very good position to start building the business for the benefit of us all.”
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