By Scott Hackman, Partner, Family Business Advisor
What an amazing Forum with John Engels at the Radnor Valley Country Club on May 23! I myself walked away from the event feeling both empowered to lead in mature ways, while a bit uncomfortable at the same time.
Managing people challenges in the family business – and fostering emotionally mature environments – are especially relevant topics. As leaders, including those in the rising generation, we want to be the hero. We wish to solve all the problems that come our way in the family business, as we work to earn trust and establish ourselves. We don’t want to appear weak or uninformed, and a lot of other unspoken expectations that go along with what creates insecurity. What’s going on with me, and where my role fits in our successful transition, even as an imperfect piece of the puzzle, is part of my truth.
In managing transitions, it is of utmost importance to speak our truths. We cannot grow if we are not our genuine selves. John mentioned that being emotionally mature means knowing and managing yourself. Learning how to manage feelings and how you react to feelings is your responsibility. I cannot hold you responsible for my emotions, nor can you hold me responsible for yours. We both choose how to respond to the events that happen to and around us, and we are responsible for our reactions with others. As emotionally mature members of our respective business families, though, it is possible to meet in a safe space to speak our truths and understand others’ perspectives.
Another topic that John talked about was using “I Disclosures” in communication. Some examples of those are:
- I feel tired and drained.
- I regret saying you are not ready or qualified to lead this business.
- In my view, we are still 3-4 years away from making this happen.
“I” statements communicate personal responsibility and questions show curiosity. Empathy shows that I’m interested in gaining a deeper understanding of where you’re coming from, and how you feel. I’m also disclosing how I think about things being discussed. Most importantly, I’m letting you see my vulnerability as we engage in our dialogue. All of these disclosures create an atmosphere of connection and show willingness to gain a deeper understanding of someone else’s point of view.
Embrace the Discomfort
This process will be uncomfortable. It will take practice. Learning to expect the discomfort and to embrace it anyhow will help you on your path to becoming an emotionally mature leader. With time and honest dedication toward becoming a more present leader, it will get easier. You’ll know yourself better and start to comfortably own your identity. The true you, is someone your business family needs, and you are a vital part of a successful transition. Embrace the discomfort!
We are all imperfect pieces of what can still be a very functional family, business, and community!
Want to talk about what you find uncomfortable in the transition in which you find yourself? I’d love to talk more with you about it. Drop me a line and let’s tackle it together!
By the way, at our next Best Practice Event, we’re going to talk more about creating environments built on trust, where healthy conflict is encouraged and team members thrive. Want to join us? Learn more here!