Family Business : Right On Board

Family Business : Right On Board

Have you ever imagined that being the leader of a family company is like being the captain of a ship on the seas?

As the head of a family business, it’s common to be faced with decision-making. You often feel nervous or anxious when you have to choose from several options because there are so many considerations. Especially when faced with decisions that will impact your employees.

In this case, there is an interesting analogy proposed by mental health expert and author, Sabriya Charles, that can make you reconsider the situation your company is going through, which helps in shifting the direction.

Understanding the character of the ship

Sabriya invites you to imagine your family business as a ship, while you are the captain. From this, it can be inferred that your leadership is the key to the success of the ship in sailing to where it wants to go. Therefore, you need to understand various factors related to the physical ship, the destination, the crew, and the journey itself. The ship you control may be made of steel or a kayak made of bamboo. The design could also be wide or long. The accompanying crew could also be two or four. The type of boat could be a tourist boat or a logistics boat, depending on the cargo being carried. In the middle of the journey, there are sometimes storms that can easily break the ship. However, each skipper has the skills to be able to repair the damage, sooner or later.

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This analogy makes us realize that not all family companies have the same history. From the way the business was created, the goals, and the various factors that made it stand are very diverse. Of course, there is no one size fits all solution to solve problems. Including with the business you are controlling.

Inevitably, what is required of a leader is a set of leadership skills. As the captain of the ship, of course, you must determine the destination of the ship by outlining the company’s vision and mission. In addition, you must be able to control your thoughts as well as have a good mental state. Leadership is an art, a skill, a discipline, and a mindset that can be learned and improved over time with a lot of practices.

Managing the crew

Crew members have their own characteristics or personalities. Their presence on board is not only to assist the skipper in running the ship, but also to offer companionship along the way.

It would be better if along the way, the captain would share his knowledge, setting an example by defining the values and systems that apply to his team. Especially when dealing with difficult people, according to an article from SailorInsight, leaders should understand the real issues behind their behavior by talking to them directly in a polite manner. Avoid letting problems drag on and on so that the work atmosphere remains healthy over time.

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Journey that matters

The famous writer, Ernest Hemingway once said, it is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters, in the end.The journey to the destination is even more important because that’s where the meaning of life lies. Just like running a ship, getting to the pinnacle of success is not easy. There are many obstacles, from stormy weather, pirates and iceberg ready to crack the ship.

The question is where are you right now? Are you facing a storm? Or it’s smooth sailing?  As a leader, no matter what you are facing, you are capable of steering the business back on track. Asking for help from the rescue ship is not out of the question. What needs to be considered is that now is no longer the time to face difficulties alone.

In a family business, a critical situation usually occurs when the following things happen, such as when one of the family members who hold an important position passes away, whenthe company’s goals, values and objectives are unclear. There are conflicts within the family or succession could be several critical issues. Sometimes there is a lack of understanding aboutindustry trends and regulations. Anxiety about business growth could occur time to time.

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When the going gets rough, and it’s high-risk, even painful, family companies raise the white flag and call for immediate help. Because no matter how difficult the situation, there is always time and hope given the emergency measures that can be taken. As long as the captain is quick to be proactive, the ship can be saved.

Above all, we are not alone. There are always other captains ready to help. All we need to do is open to ask for help and embrace the change. Family businesses are known to eager in helping each other, to share knowledge and sometimes lend crew members to fix the broken ship.  So, don’t worry! As long as you are open, there are people ready to help. 

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