Our last post introduced the idea that preparation for leadership of the family firm and successful succession requires not only the acquisition of knowledge and skills to lead a business but also the internalisation of values and visions of the family to be able to maintain their commitment, support, and harmony.

Succession of Values: continuing differently

We commence with an exploration of the underlying values that represent the cornerstone of the family’s operation of the business so as to emphasise the necessity for these to be passed on in the interests of continuity as a succession of values.

For leadership succession to occur a successor must demonstrate that his or her values are congruent with that of the dominant coalition that could well be led by the predecessor. That is, are they capable of perpetuating the values of the family in business? If the firm has built a reputation for taking good care of its employees and customers alike that has engendered loyalty enabling the firm to grow and prosper, then it is imperative that the successor places the same importance on caring for these stakeholders. But in this case it is the philosophy of stakeholder care that is to be internalised and not necessarily the practices of the past as “the way we do things around here” that have to be perpetuated. Indeed the paradox implicit in this succession of values is the notion of continuing differently. Incumbents and broader stakeholders need to tolerate this difference provided that the underlying values are preserved because constancy of reliable values has been found to generate value in the market place.

Have your family articulated your values? Are they widely communicated to all stakeholders?