Are You A Problem Patriarch In Your Business

By all accounts family businesses are complicated. In my practice I often find myself exposing the “Elephant In The Room.” The colors of the elephant vary and this article deals with one that is particularly difficult. There are many factors that cause good people to become problem patriarchs (or matriarchs). By the time they are in that place the causative factors are less important than stopping the negative impact they are having.

This is an interesting diagnostic article. Read it and see if the shoe fits.


hbrBut there was a darker side to Carl’s success.

Although his first act was one of the best ever, he became a “problem patriarch,” a very hard-driving alpha leader who hired superb talent within the family and the business — and then consistently undermined that talent.

He drove his sister out of the company by placing her in a succession of dead-end jobs. His uncle resigned from the board saying that he wouldn’t be part of a “paper board,” in which Carl effectively made all the key decisions. Carl responded by maneuvering to buy most of his uncle’s shares. In the process, he created a leadership vacuum that threatened the very legacy he had worked so hard to build.

When he had a heart attack at 64, Carl’s doctors cautioned him to slow down. Worried both about his health — and about the prospects for the company — family members strongly advised Carl to step aside. Not surprisingly, he selected a relatively inexperienced CEO he knew he could control. People in the organization had no doubt about where the buck really stopped.

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