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Helping Family Businesses
Prosper Across Generations®

Attitudes Critical For Sibling Success

Dear Advisor: We’ve heard that control should be invested in one second generation leader. Others suggest creating a sibling team. How can we make it more likely that our sibling team can be effective?


Sibling-owned family businesses are marked by the advantages and disadvantages of the siblings’ sometimes dramatically different personalities and managerial styles. While such differences bring more creativity and breadth to business decision-making, they can heighten conflicts and rivalries as well.

Whether decision-making advantages or the interpersonal conflicts prevail often depends on the presence of two fundamental attitudes.

The successful sibling teams we see have a deep belief in the “bundle of sticks” parable and follow the “servant leadership” philosophy. “Bundle of sticks” refers to the assumption that the team is stronger together than the individuals are separately. This lesson, often proclaimed by parents since youth, promotes the shared benefits of sticking together.

“Servant leadership” makes acceptable the inevitable variability of siblings’ contributions. With differing personalities, skills, and abilities, siblings will necessarily make different contributions to success. If each believes that leadership is more to help others succeed than it is to earn personal power and recognition, then the realization of different degrees of contributions won’t foster dissatisfaction.

Sibling teams can be sources of great strength or great pain. Those who truly believe in strength in unity and in servant leadership can enjoy the benefits and minimize the conflicts.

The Advisor

 

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