Family Business Mediator Video No 21: Parents as Bosses: Nature vs Nurture vs Independence.

  • Nature vs nurture goes back to the Greeks: innate qualities vs learned / conditioned behaviours and abilities.

During the growing up years, Nature and Nurture interact within the Family System to shape individual personalities and core family dynamics. The results can cause serious conflict when they move into a business system, where consequences are magnified.

  • Family Business = Double Whammy:
    • Parents at home vs Boss(es) at work and,
    • Siblings at home vs professional colleagues at work.
  • Many sibling conflicts arise through parental over-protection (nurture) of one weak / needy sibling over another who is more independent & resilient:
    • Excessive and overly-prolonged support tends to increase dependency on parents for life skills and financial sustenance, as well as work competencies.
    • Independent children may resent dependent children who are treated equally by parents and bosses, despite unequal efforts, commitment and contribution. (Unequal abilities are usually ignored).
  • Entirely appropriate Parenting styles may not translate well into business operations:
    • Nurture vs Competition can create conflict when (unconditional) family love, emanating openly from one part of the family (ie: Mum) crashes against the business’s need for performance from a boss (often Dad).
    • It throws mother against father, and siblings against each other.
  • Modern business is more inclusive and collaborative – playground lessons?
  • Resilience is a product of teaching & requiring independence – owning issues and challenges; choosing how to deal with them; accepting responsibility for handling your own stuff, without running off to Mummy for a fix, and a cuddle.
  • Solution: create and require adult independence & resilience in business. Obtain coaching support if this conflicts with the family’s normal model.

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