Too often I see family business siblings wasting a lot of energy trying to show each other up as a leader in the family business. The problem is that this behavior is not only counter-productive it is highly annoying and distracting to the employees in the business. Sibling rivalries have been around forever. It’s a natural hard wired tendency for us to compete with each other for resources, attention and affection in our tribes. Some guys, sadly are still acting like cavemen stomping around carelessly leaving a trail of debris behind them. Today’s workers are looking for more mature and dynamic leadership to help keep them motivated and focused. When two brothers (or sisters) spend their energy puffing out their chests and trying to prove their superiority it drives good people away.
I suggest a five step approach to better leadership with siblings. First, be more self-aware during the day by watching the impact of your words and actions. When you arrive at work, check your ego at the door and stop needing to prove your worth. Your family members and you need to identify and understand each other’s unique strengths and assign roles based upon those strengths. Then, find ways to support and enhance each other’s efforts for the good of the whole company. Finally, continue giving each other feedback and challenge each other to be better leaders.
Every team needs many different types and styles of leaders. Spend time exploring and understanding each other’s inherent strengths and design your roles around those strengths. Great sibling partnerships divide and conquer in a positive way. Usually one is better at sales, the other at operations, finance or customer service. You may want to take a behavioral assessment to learn how you are wired. Don’t stay in a position that’s not well suited for your talents. I use Path Elements Profile by my colleague Laurie Beth Jones. It’s simple to use and will give a new way to relate to each other. Be humble with each other and realize that when you get focused on your mutual success you will be a better team and have a stronger company. Give each other feedback along the way – in a way that is positive and constructive – building confidence not tearing it down.
Invest in self improvement activities such as leadership classes and a few books. There is both a science and art to leadership – don’t just try to “wing it” from the seat of your pants. Become a student of leadership and realize it’s a life long journey. Find your own unique leadership voices that can work in harmony for the good of the whole.
When you stop competing, your team will see it and appreciate it and your organization will be well on its way to higher results and employee retention. Today’s competitive landscape requires you to get this right! Good luck!