Thought Leadership

"Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes." - Carl Jung, Founder of Analytical Psychology

Having an executive coach no longer carries the negative stigma it once did. It does not mean you are in the penalty box on some form of remedial plan for poor performance. In fact, many organizations now have internal leadership development programs where promotion into a senior leadership role includes an engagement with an outside executive coach. Some Fortune 500 organizations even have in-house coaches to lead the development of emerging talent. The business world has gone through a profound paradigm shift since the 2008 financial crisis. Culture matters. Leader...

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The Carrot and Stick are pervasive and persuasive motivators. But if you treat people like donkeys, they'll perform like donkeys - John Whitmore

What a powerful statement! Management style matters! Employees today have choices; they don't have to work for the boss with anger issues who bully them into submission. Research shows that most people who leave their job quit their boss, not the company. The authoritarian style of managing - the "DO WHAT I SAY" approach - can get results, but it does have consequences. Over time, it will dampen employee's motivation and foster low moral. On the flip side, leaders that show humility achieve better results.

Today's values based leadership has cast a new light on the way managers manage. The old sc...

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How to use (or not use) social media in your job search

This message is for all job hunters, and those considering a career transition: Is social media the right avenue to use for your job search? The answer is a resounding yes, but as the saying goes "Buyer Beware." For job seekers today social media allows you to build a brand and expand your outreach, faster than ever imagined. However, there are potential pitfalls in using social media. Understanding how to use, and not use social media, is vitally important to managing your brand. Moreover, it can provide a significant advantage, or disadvantage, if not used in the correct way.

Let's start with LinkedIn. It has no doubt revolutionized the job-search process, for both those seeking work, as well as those organizations and recruiters seeki...

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"The best way to predict your future is to create it" - Peter Drucker

There has been a great deal written about the "Gig" economy, highlighting its appeal to workers who desire more flexibility. Companies employing temporary or contract workers characterize the gig economy. In many ways the gig economy is the result of the death of the psychological contract of lifetime employment, which was brought about by the economic turbulence since the 1970's. Moreover, the 2008 great recession threw people out of work in mass and forced them to try different forms of employment. Companies like Uber and Lyft provided a temporary solution to unemployment. The reality of the new economy is the practice of hiring full-time employees who rarely change companies, and then quietly retire into the sunset is slowing fading ...

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By Jim Ward

May 10, 2019

“The lousy thing about family ownership is, well, family”

Bill Plasachke, LA Times

Recently, a good friend of mine reached out to me for some professional advice. He was considering going to work for a family owned business and was not sure it was the right move for him. He was looking for a third party opinion on the possible merits, or disadvantages, of working for a family-owned business.

Working for a family-owned business can lead to a rewarding and promising career; however, one should be mindful of the possible pitfalls. As I discussed this with my friend, a number of issues arose, some of which include the following:

  • First and foremost, when you join a family-owned business, and you are not family, you will never be part of the “family.” This is critical to understanding where you stand in the pecking order. You may have a very close and trusting relationship with the family, but in the end, blood is thicker than water. Having a clear understanding of the family politics and what it means to not be family is important to one’s success.

  • A family member will always be the top decision maker. I once did some consulting work for the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of a very large family office with a $5 billion investment portfolio. I soon discovered that while this COO had an important position and title as the number 2 person in the organization, he had limited authority. “Real” authority will always lie with the family.

  • The unwritten rules for family members can be different. Family-owned and managed businesses will tend to hire other family members to work there, regardless of experience or qualifications. Nepotism can be an issue.

  • Performance norms can be different for family vs. non-family. Standards of performance competencies can be blurred when comparing family members with non-family. Often, substandard performance is accepted with family members, with little or no recourse. Family members will often make performance decisions based on emotions, rather than rational facts. This can lead to situations where a person’s strengths are overstated, and their weaknesses minimized or overlooked altogether. You cannot just fire the owner’s son or daughter, just because you consider him or her a “slacker.”

  • In terms of talent and rewards, a family-owned business may lack process and structure. For example, in terms of upward mobility the process can be less than transparent. Also, compensation plans are often not spelled out and apply differently depending on family vs. non-family. Policies may not be as clearly defined and transparent to all staff. These areas of attention are important to be mindful of because the atmosphere is often less structured within a family-owned business and a common pitfall is to accept a verbal agreement for employment terms.

On the positive front, there can be many advantages to working for a family owned b...

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