Stephanie Olexa, Strategic Business Advisor

On Thursday October 24, 2013 I had the great pleasure of attending DVFBC’s Forum called “Family Councils: Who? What? Why?”, hosted by the Pitcairn Family. The guest speakers included Leslie Voth, Dirk Junge, and Andrew Pitcairn of the Pitcairn Family and Lauri Lefever of Hoober, IncSally Derstine, Scott Hackman, and Henry Landes of DVFBC helped lead the discussion of how the speakers’ respective Family Councils supported both their families and their businesses.

I heard descriptions of how Family Councils preserved the family history. In addition, it reinforced family values, and allowed all family members to understand the business, even if they did not work in the organization. I was a bit jealous of the fun events that were described…picnics, contests, scavenger hunts, games, celebrations and storytelling. Lauri Lefever described a Family Council outing in which the entire family, including all the children, visited two newly opened stores to meet the employees and celebrate the expansion of the business. The children’s contest based on their knowledge of Gen 1 history and the guiding values touched my heart.

Earlier that day I wrote a blog on self trust. I found myself thinking about ways to build trust within the other circles: family, organization, market, and society. The comments from the speakers and my conversations with other attendees made the light bulb go off over my head.

Yes, we have to develop trust within each of the circles. In addition, we must form trust relationships that bridge the circles and almost blur the lines between the circles. And since I think in graphics, I came home and drew the above graphic.

The Five Domains of Trust

Competence: The Family Councils educate all family members about the business and communicate the family values to the employees of the business. As a result, it serves as a conduit for communication. The next generation begins the journey into the family business in a supportive and loving process. The Family Council is the opportunity for business development, personal development and education across generations.

Integrity: The Family Council can provide a forum for consensus on setting and implementing policies to govern the business in a fair manner that reflects family values.

Openness: The Family Council provides a forum for all family members to be involved, regardless of the role they play in the business. It is a mechanism of celebrating the dual roles of each person, family member and business associate.

Benevolence: The Family Council is a nurturing body. It allows each person to grow while supporting them in their roles in growing the organization. It demonstrates as it teaches that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Shared Vision: The Family Council is a vehicle to communicate the family values and vision to guide the board, top management, advisors, family members and employees of the organization.

The Family Council is the bridge that spans the family and organization circles. Consequently, it’s the tool that establishes the link of trust between these circles. In conclusion, if you want more info on starting your own Family Council, get in touch with us today!

Next in the series: Can Broken Trust Be Repaired?


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