Preserving the Family’s Legacy through Education

Legacy is not what we are doing for ourselves but what we are doing for our next generation.

When it comes to ownership succession, many business-owning families spend thousands on attorneys, accountants and financial planners to help create a plan for future generations. However, this is only the beginning of transitioning the family for future ownership. The rest of the work lies in preparing the emerging generations as lifelong learners passionate about maintaining the health and prosperity of the family business system: family, business management and ownership. This can be achieved by empowering families to plan and implement family ownership education plans.

Historically, family business owners send their family, ownership group and nonfamily executives to learning opportunities at conferences, family business centres or educational programs.

In addition, there are other ways of engaging and educating the next gen of family business leaders. Following are examples of educating and best preparing the next generation ;


Leadership Skills

Defining and preparing business leaders today looks very different than it was in 1980. Leadership researcher Dr. Brené Brown asked successful CEOs about the way people are leading today’s needs to change to be successful in a complex, rapidly changing environment. The top answer was “braver leaders and more courageous cultures.”1 When asked what courage is, the same respondents all had different answers. Brown defines courage as the ability to speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences. She also teaches that delivering feedback to those we ask to courageously follow us is an essential leadership skill for future generations.

Ownership Skills

Successful continuity planning includes preparing the emerging generation with some basic ownership knowledge including business financial accruement, negotiation skills, interpersonal communication skills, industry awareness, emotional intelligence, governance abilities, role awareness and brand awareness.

Family Continuity

Many business-owning families aspire to leave a legacy of family values, create an appreciation of family history and continue a healthy family system. They want to teach the next generation how to align and define their generation’s family values — and be aware how these values will impact the family business. Families also want to preserve the past but encourage innovation and the beauty of being entrepreneurs.

The family education component can be implemented in the context of family governance planning and is stimulating and challenging work to do with young adults. Ideally, families can begin as the emerging generations start primary school and plan to increase the skills and involvement that tracks the development of the children into early adult years and beyond.

The Educational Process

When creating an educational process for children in the family, the first step is to design the learning objectives for each age group. What are the minimum skills required? Which concepts are appropriate for the learners? What are envisioned skills for the growth and continued improvement of all three circles, to envision what skills would enhance the family, ownership group and business? What will the emerging generation need that the current owning generation did not?


( *All Statistical information presented in this blog has been obtained from an extract of an article from the Family Business Consulting Group based in Chicago)

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