Mar 21 2016

The Cause & Calling of the Rising Gen in Family Firms

by Scott Hackman, Partner, Family Business Advisor

As I chair peer groups for Rising Generation Leaders in business families, I observe two important motivating factors in the rising generation. These two factors really can impact how someone sees themselves fitting into a family business (or not) and how much of a contribution they can make.


The millennials and leaders I guide are, for the most part, looking for something bigger than a job. They want to help solve problems and provide sustainable ways to live and work in the world. To continue to perform and grow the family enterprise the next generation will need to connect to it as a cause.

Working in the family firm can provide meaningful employment, but the rising generation is looking to make their own mark. They seek opportunities to bring who they are to the company, to create a venture from within the family structure to provide more opportunity for the future, and to see it all as part of something bigger than themselves. What could have been an afterthought to previous generations, things like community-building, sustainability, and being a socially conscious company, might be central to what drives the next generation.


Family business can have a compelling call on the rising generation because of the personal attachment to a place and persons they care about. To be part of this family enterprise allows the next generation to put themselves in a larger story of belonging, and provides a sense of responsibility to the family enterprise team.  And fostering this sense of belonging and responsibility is very good for the enterprise, because, as we all know, there is a big difference between being an owner on a piece of legal paper, and taking ownership of the legacy of a family business.

While Cause & Calling can be important factors to the rising generation’s contribution to the family business, they are still no substitute for overall competency. There is a growing need for mentorship inside and outside family firms, both for the employed family members and key non family members. Providing a safe place for peer learning from real experience shared by others allows growth in both leadership skills and personal development. Contact us today to visit an upcoming Lab meeting and see for yourself how these groups are providing leadership development for other rising generation leaders!

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