What are the tests of leadership? When do we know we are a good leader? When can someone else look at us and say that based on what they’ve seen, we are ready to lead? This is a common question in family businesses. When is someone ready to take the reigns – the reigns of a project, a department, a division, or an entire company?
What character trait leads some of us to say, “I’m going off the high dive!” and others of us to say, “I’ll wade in slowly.”? And how does that style reassure or scare the heck out of those deciding when we’re ready to lead? Is it the most opinionated and outspoken among us, passionate in our beliefs, that assume leadership roles most aggressively, and rightly? Or is it those of us who hang back and listen more than we talk, question ourselves and others, taking a less direct and meandering path, who are on to something?
When is any one human being ready to step forward and have the sun shine upon them? When is anyone ready to be handed the scepter of the family royalty and the keys to the kingdom?
Umm, well, never.
It’s a Winding Road
It’s much more of a humbling, challenging, frustrating, but yet rewarding dance of a journey with two steps forward and one step back. Sometimes it’s ten forward, one back, but other days it’s only one forward and five back. We have big wins, and we feel a sense of pride – not just about a job well done, but at making our family proud.
We screw up and have to deal with the consequences of disappointing the people we love. Sometimes we make decisions we stand by and there are disagreements that never resolve which can build resentment and drive a wedge in families if left alone. That’s the journey of family business leadership that is a little different.
It reminds me of chemistry class. There are the average business wins and losses, but then you add a catalyst – an accelerator – this one is called love – and everything’s a whole lot bigger.