Managing Complexity: Coaches and Advisors

Family enterprises have many moving parts. The task for practitioners is complicated, especially in multi-generational family businesses, by a kaleidoscope of connections (both within the business and the family) including multiple interests, commitments and perspectives.

Christin McClave, who works both inside and outside her own family business, joins us as guest blogger today to share how consultants and coaches may work together to effectively manage these complexities.

Guest Blogger
Christin McClave, M.S.M, CPCC, ACC 

As a third-generation family business owner, I understand the many complexities facing family enterprises—issues I simply could not appreciate as a child growing up in such a business. But understanding these complexities doesn’t necessarily make them easier to solve.

At FFI’s Global Conference in Brussels this month, in a session I co-moderated with professional coach Carmen Lence and Dr. Dennis Jaffe, I examined how two professional advisory camps—”coaches” and “consultants”, can work in tandem to positively influence sustainable change for NextGen leaders and their family businesses. (Session presentation is available here)

One of the most prominent ideas brought to light, was how both the family and the business’s interests are best served when their roles are clearly defined. I cited a live case study of our own family business, Cardone Industries, to illustrate how our family is working in conjunction with both a coach who works individually with me, and a family business consultant, in order to help answer the following Next Generational questions:

  • Can and should we retain the business in the third generation?
  • How do we become more educated and responsible owners?
  • How will we do things differently than our parents did?
  • Do the size of our business and the needs of the family make the task insurmountable? And if so, should we seek alternative financing strategies?
If you’re involved in family businesses as an owner, consultant, advisor or coach, you know that working with multi-generational families is a thoroughly complicated undertaking, at best. However, as professionals in the field, it’s our responsibility to utilize each other and lean on the expertise of our FFI network, to simplify and clarify the process as much as possible. By partnering with a support system of other professionals, we can better laser in on the pertinent issues family businesses encounter.
In our case, the family business system needs multiple advocates and perspectives. The business is one entity, I myself am another, my brother is third, and my brother and I together constitute yet a fourth. We need more than one advocate for all of those parties to see the various perspectives and achieve respective solutions. While our ‘consulting advocate’ helps us sort through the facts and make sage business and financial decisions, our ‘coach advocate’ helps my brother and I peel through the layers of psychological concerns, such as the fear of disappointing our parents and thoughts of entitlement.
As practitioners in this field we must ask ourselves:
  • If the business survives but the family doesn’t, have we truly achieved success?
  • What type of leaders are we developing for the future of a family business?
  • Are we advocating for all the parties involved and making sure each has a voice?

It’s admittedly luxurious to think that families will always have a separate advocate for each entity of the enterprise. But in order to improve on the statistics inherently stacked against the Next Generation, we need to move toward a model that increases sustainable change. Partnership within our own professional disciplines is key to achieving this model for the family businesses we serve.

About the Contributor
Christin Cardone McClave, M.S.M, CPCC, ACC, is a third generation owner of Cardone Industries. She’s a certified leadership coach and works with next generation emerging Leaders in family enterprise and corporate settings. She is a speaker and a blogger, writing as the “FamilyBizChick”. She is based in Philadelphia, and lives there with her husband (the “married-in”), and three Next Generation sons. Christin can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @FamilyBizChick.

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