The Role of Leadership and Wealth Can Lead to Conflict in a Family Until…

There is a great potential for things to unravel when new generations take on roles of leadership as stewards of family wealth or as leaders in a family business. Because each generation has their own independent ideas on how to improve or grow what they have been given, conflicts can arise when the existing leadership has not been involved in a coordinated transfer of leadership. The current team of leaders often find that they lead best when they lead independently from others’ input, well intended or not.

For a family that wants to stay connected independence is not the key to success. It presupposes separation and often times, oligarchy, involving one generation or a certain subset but not others. With a legacy family, independence is an element, merely one of many elements, to a bigger purpose: the purpose the family has defined as their reason for being. This purpose is the one they want to build and foster as a group, together.  This purpose i involves the entire family. Its strength lies in its ability to envelop the family in fostering independent thinking while also cultivating mutual trust, respect, unity, and harmony in the bigger, common picture which defines their group.

When families have not developed an overarching purpose for themselves, they risk the probability that the varied and independent ideas of each individual will, over time, spark discord among them. This discord can result in overt or covert squabbles. These, over time, can tear at the threads of the unspoken family harmony.

This discord can result in squandering the assets. A business where the next generation is not mentored into leadership can bring business failure. An asset that is passed down without the understanding of how to steward it can result in the spending of the assets.

An associate told me of a gentleman he knew who suddenly died, leaving his commercial properties to his son. His son thought owning property must be easy. His Dad certainly made it look so. Within five years, this son over leveraged the properties. His life changed when he was caught, tried and convicted of running an investment scheme, asking for investment money to develop these now severely over leveraged properties and found this “son” was using their investments to keep the creditors at bay and fund his own lavish lifestyle. He found out what Dad made look easy was not so easy to do after all. He is now serving his jail time. His properties have all been sold to pay creditors, investors and attorneys. What his Dad built was squandered in less than one generation.

When one is not prepared to receive and mentored on how to use an asset that is given, it is too easy to spend it to fund one’s own sense of an entitled lifestyle. After all, “Dad did this for me, right.” comes the weak justification.

Preparing family members to become stewards of the assets they have been given is the best gift one generation can give to another.

Preparing generations for their roles of leadership gives a family a sense of alignment not entitlement. From this alignment comes harmony, direction, and a common and agreed upon purpose. This is family unity in family leadership where wealth is concerned.

Share with me your thoughts from reading this blog.

  • What have you noticed to be challenges families face as they pass wealth (in all its facets) from one generation to the next?
  • Is the focus on the things? Is the focus on the meaning of stewardship and how that can be fostered cohesively?
  • What else are you thinking as it relates to family connection? I’d love to know.

Focusing on the Value of Things Is Not Enough

I’d like to bring your attention to a recent article in Campden FB because it confirms what I think is a fundamental cornerstone to successful, long lasting legacy families. By successful families, I mean the ability of these long lasting legacy families to stay connected from generation to generation.


The law firm Withers Bergmann along with research partner Scorpio Partnership conducted interviews with families of net worth from thirty million to well into the billions of dollars. These two firms wanted to ascertain the meaning of wealth from these families’ points of view. Was creation of more wealth a focus? Was the preservation of the wealth their aim? What was the meaning of wealth for them?


Interestingly enough, their interviews found that for families within this range of wealth, money is the family’s business, the family’s reason to get together. “Its’ management, its stewardship and its division” is fundamental, the researchers found. But this only brings the family together for their own agendas and desires, which, naturally enough can create great tension. Some family members may want growth, others dividends, still others distributions; a messy picture when not properly framed and addressed.


The interviews also discovered an emerging trend for these families. Legacy families are seeing that focusing on the money, its preservations and growth are not enough. They were versed at the investments they had but not its overall purpose. These families are thinking about the purpose of their wealth.


This is so exciting to me as I have seen the difference in families when the focus is on the money itself, and omitting the family members in determining and moving forward the purpose of the money…together.


We focus on the value of things and often miss thinking about the things of value, the purpose of the family money. This needs to involve the people who are impacted by the wealth, the family.


What does your family focus on? How do they do that as a unified community? Share your thoughts I’d love to hear from you.

Family Security is Built on Two Elements: Money and…

Family security is built on two elements: forwarding the determined purpose of the family money and developing the inclusive family mission. We will look at the value to the latter, developing the inclusive family mission.

I’d like to share with you a quote from a book I read. The quote illustrates the role of a mission statement for a family. Stephen R. Covey, the famed author, educator, and motivator in his book Principle Centered Leadership said this:

Too many families are managed on the basis of instant gratification, not on sound principles and rich emotional bank accounts. Then, when stress and pressure mount, people start yelling, overreacting or being cynical, critical, or silent. Children see it and think this is the way you solve problems-either fight or flight. And the cycles can be passed on for generations.

This is why I recommend creating a family mission statement. By drafting a family constitution, you are getting to the root of the problem.

If you want to get anywhere long-term, identify core values and goals and get the system aligned with these values and goals. Work on the foundation. Make it secure.

The core of any family is what is changeless, what is always going to be there. This can be represented in a family mission statement. Ask yourself, “What do we value? What is our family all about? What do we stand for? What is our essential mission, our reason for being?”

You have been reading my many blogs on the benefits to articulating and developing family values and missions. My family has built and is developing ours. We started back in the mid- 1990s. We see the benefit to doing this.

Please leave a comment with your thoughts on Stephen R. Covey’s remarks. He spoke well to the benefits of building a legacy family by developing the family’s core foundation.

I’d love to know your obstacles to putting together your own family mission statement. I’d love to know, if you have a family mission statement. How do you keep it relevant, dynamic and inclusive?

Next Time You Want to Find the Gold, Dig for the Buried Treasure; it’s closer than You Think

If you read the last post you may remember that I talked about the value of the center. Today I am going to take that conversation one step further. We will look at the center. What is it?

In all my digging, testing, tossing, retesting and confirming, I have found that people’s center is comprised of core motivators. I am not talking about the base reptilian reactors we have: the freeze, fright, flight, or flock components. I am not talking about the mammalian forces, emotions that cause us to react to stimuli, wants and desires. I am not even talking about the rationale mind that analyzes everything for us with as much conviction as our emotions have in convincing us to do something. No, the center I am referring to lives in the calm space inside us. It is the small quiet voice within that leads us to being the truest person, making the best choices for ourselves.

Beyond the lure and familiarity of the reptilian, mammalian or rationale brain functions lies yet another universe. Science has not given this modality great attention yet. Religions and spiritual practices have focused their attention here with great appetite and insight. Recently psychology, especially in the merging cognitive and positive disciplines, has delved into this area of human expression.

Co-authors Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman wrote in their book: Character, Strengths, and Values that China with Confucianism and Taoism, South Asia with Buddhism and Hinduism and The West with Judeo-Christianity and Islam, have all concentrated great attention in researching the strengths, virtues and principles.

After you have found and described your core principles, then you can move to creating action to support the meaning to and in your life. Viktor Frankl, in his book Man’s Search for Meaning said that purpose is where man seeks meaning. He goes on to describe how man finds this meaning for themselves: “Well, if we investigate how the man in the street goes about finding meaning it turns out that there are three avenues that lead up to meaning: First, doing a deed or creating a work; second, experiencing something or encountering someone. Most important, however, is the third avenue: Facing a fate (purpose) we cannot change, we are called upon to make the best of it by rising above ourselves and growing beyond ourselves, in a word, by changing ourselves.”

To find your center you have to take the time to look inside yourself, discover and articulate what is really important to you, not as actions,(not yet,) but as principles. Once these are clearly determined they must be defined, defined as to how they matter to you. What about them is so important to you? That importance becomes the manner in which they act as that small quiet voice in the inner calm space that override the reptilian, mammalian and rationale minds.

Once you have articulated your guiding principles you know your why to your life. Taking the time to find and articulate them is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. You will have given yourself the clarity of knowing your center, yourself.

A few weeks ago I was talking to a client who couldn’t wait to tell me how excited to they were to have everything “click into place for them.” As he said to me: “I finally understand how important knowing your values is. It makes everything else make sense. Now I know why I am so passionate about my giving.” Responsibility is his highest value and for him, responsibility means acting for the good of the global betterment with his money. He continued to say: “I don’t have to feel ashamed about my passion towards the planet. I feel a responsibility towards it. That’s who I am. Now I can be that, not fight it. I can be me, not fight me. Knowing my why makes me feel so relaxed.”

According to a 1999 survey by Public Agenda, adults in the United States cited ‘not learning values’ as the most important problem facing today’s youth.”

I encourage you to go on a dig to your center. Dig in, see what you find. There is buried treasure in there just for you.

Leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you on your views and experiences with your center.