Hubler For Business Families

Succession Planning: Family Business Fathers - Part One

Who they are today is most likely who their kids become - and how advisors can help (first in a series)

Key Takeaways:
  • Fathers are critical to the emotional development of their sons and daughters - and there are fun, creative ways to build emotional connections.
  • Family business tensions are often the result of emotional deficits that occur between fathers and children - but they're never too late to correct.
  • When fathers become emotionally involved with their sons and daughters, valuable lessons can be passed on about the business - and life.

In his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, "Fences," August Wilson comments on what is considered a common dynamic between fathers and sons. At the end of the play the mother says to her son, "[Your father] tried to teach you all of the things that he wasn't, and at the same time you became all the things that he was."

Did this famous playwright promote a stereotype? A stereotype is generally defined as a widely held but fixed or oversimplified idea of a type of person or thing. My dictionary includes the pejorative, "to make hackneyed."

The stereotypical father runs the business, puts bread on the table and is both the family and company CEO. Continuing this business family stereotype, Mom is also the CEO: Chief Emotional Officer. Maybe that's hackneyed and outdated, but in my experience, that is generally true of family-run businesses.

I have realized over years of consulting just how vital dads are in the emotional development of their adult sons and daughters. Fathers who take the time to bless their children by participating in their lives recognize the powerful bond that is created. The fathers' investment of time and energy reaps tremendous rewards in the relationships they enjoy with their sons and daughters.

Sons who are the beneficiaries of their fathers' attention are generally much more successful. Similarly, when fathers bless their daughters with attention, the girls tend to do better in school, particularly in math, science and business.

Troubled father/son or father/daughter business relationships that make the news are often directly related to what has or has not happened in the parent-child relationship. Tension in the business relationship often results from the emotional deficit that accrued in the family between the father and the kids.

Fathers are critical to the emotional development of their sons and daughters. That is likely no surprise. But even when deficits in emotional involvement have occurred, it is never too late in the family business to make an adjustment. Dads should (may I say "must"?) get involved now with their adult children and their grandchildren. It is mutually rewarding, heals past hurts and prevents future business/leadership tensions.

Building emotional connections
Captains Courageous - Movie PosterI have found a great way to build emotional connections that are fun and natural: I hold an annual film festival for my two (now 10-year-old) grandsons who are cousins. Last year the film festival theme was 1930/1940s genre horror films, e.g., "Frankenstein," "The Wolf Man" and "Dracula." While this may sound intense, the weekend included lots of pizza, swimming and a local fireworks display. The theme for this year's festival focused on father-son relationships. We watched "Captains Courageous," "The Red Pony," and "Shane." In each film the son is neglected or held at an emotional distance from his father.

In "Captains Courageous," the father and son are completely alienated. The son is a spoiled, entitled brat who is kicked out of prep school. The father is a business tycoon immersed in his business dealings. The story is about how the boy's life is transformed when he is lost at sea and then rescued by a fisherman who, through fishing, teaches him about life skills, values and manhood. The boy and his biological father connect emotionally at the end of the film while the boy is grieving over the loss of his fisherman friend and mentor.

The Red Pony - Movie PosterA similar dynamic occurs in "The Red Pony," in which a father and son are distant. To connect with his son, the father gives the boy a red pony. However, the son learns about life, values and manhood from the family's hired hand. At the close of the film, the father becomes involved in his son's emotional life, and they share a connection.

In "Shane," the father and son are not alienated, but the son idolizes a transient, retired gunfighter from whom he learns about life, values and manhood.

Each story demonstrates that when the father or his surrogate becomes emotionally involved with the son, the son is able to learn life lessons. The same process can occur in succession planning for a family-owned business.

Part two of this article explores father-son relationships relative to succession planning.

If you enjoyed this article please consider leaving a comment below, sharing it and/or subscribing to have future articles delivered to your RSS feed reader.
blog comments powered by Disqus
click edit icon to configure CONTENT-SMICONS element

Ownership PlanningSuccession Planning - Family Business Fathers - Part Two
Offer your own hugs. Reach out to each other. Let other family members know what you want emotionally. Demonstrate involvement. A dad who is emotionally engaged is invaluable to a successful family-owned business.  Read More
Succession Planning - Family Business Fathers - Part One
I have realized over years of consulting just how vital dads are in the emotional development of their adult sons and daughters. Fathers who take the time to bless their children by participating in their lives recognize the powerful bond that is created. The fathers' investment of time and energy reaps tremendous rewards in the relationships they enjoy with their sons and daughters. Read More
Intellectual Property and Succession Planning
Many conflicts can erode family relationships in a family-owned business - succession, ownership, estate management, leadership, retirement, perceived fairness and more. But one of the most unique and damaging can be the disagreement over intellectual property.  Read More
Inside-out Succession Planning - Part 2
Understanding the Four Plans Read More
Inside-out Succession Planning - Part 1
What motivates a successful plan? Read More
Emotionally Speaking - Exploring the poignant points of passing the torch
Many family businesses go through a terrible time when the leadership succession process is in full swing. There is not only the technical matter of learning the job, but also the emotional matters of loss and the need for validation and passing the torch. Read More
10 Most Prevalent Obstacles To Family Business Succession Planning
Ten obstacles derived from my observations of client situations that became stumbling blocks and obstructed their ability to move from their current state to successfully navigate the succession planning process. Read More
Plan Now to Ensure a Successful Transition Later
Marvin Schwan established a successful multibillion dollar business and was an extraordinarily successful owner/entrepreneur, yet at the moment of his death, everything he worked for seems to have fallen apart. What went wrong? Read More
Through Family Philanthropy and Service Wealth Enriches Your Life
The family, business and community all benefit from acts of philanthropy and service. Family philanthropy and service allow you to express your values in meaningful and tangible ways. Read More
The Successful Family Business is Both a Successful Family and a Successful Business
The leader of a successful family business has to answer two questions that the leader of a publicly held company doesn't have answer Read More
Heritage is the DNA of Your Family Business
Heritage will never show up your family business's balance sheet, but it is one of your richest assets. Read More
Where Does Your Family Stand
Your family values live in your family business. This business legacy contains powerful emotional forces like belief, fear, control and acceptance. Under the stress of change, especially succession, those forces become even more evident-and perhaps conflicting. Read More
Family Wealth Management
An important part of wealth management is often overshadowed by the amalgamation of wills, taxes, trusts and investments that make up the financial side. The often-neglected side of wealth management is its emotional side. The emotional side of wealth management requires managing the impact wealth has on family relationships. Read More
Attuned to the Importance of Wealth Preservation
Wealth preservation is important for your family-owned business because it impacts both the family and the business. Protecting economic security benefits both the business and personal relationships. For family businesses, particularly those preparing for a transition in management, wealth preservation is a top priority. Read More
The Richness of Your Family Legacy Articulated and Preserved
Your legacy weaves together the spectrum of values, emotions, relationships, and personalities found in a family with the ambitions, struggles and successes of business. Have you ever looked at your unique tapestry? Read More
Fine Tuning Your Legacy
I would suggest that legacy is both financial and non-financial. I have come to look at legacy as your gift to the future to help others find their own success. Read More
Learn More and Get FREE Resources

Now Available:

Cornerstone of Hubler for Business Families:

The Soul of Family Business


Take this risk-free first step in ensuring the continued success of your family business now. There is no charge for the orientation meeting other than out-of-pocket expenses for travel. 


Does your family business need help with succession planning, conflict resolution, management or other issues? If so, we'll arrange a one-on-one orientation meeting with you and Tom Hubler to help you explore the possibilities of working with us. If you choose, your family and business associates can also attend. Here, in a relaxed environment, you can talk about:

- Key family business issues
- Plans necessary for the success of your family-owned business
- Possibilities and expectations
- Terms of the relationship
©All Rights Reserved | Hubler for Business Families - America's preeminent family business consultants
Ownership Planning | Management and Leadership | Business Planning | Family Planning
Contact | Site Map