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The Family Wealth Sustainability Toolkit: The Manual by Fran Lotery, Fredda Herz Brown

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FAMILY CONNECTION: MORE COMPLEX OVER TIME

Legacies tend to bring people together, just as sharing in the definition of a raison d'être does. We all know that strong bonds are the mark of high-performing teams—teams that people fight to belong to. And the more high-performing the team, the stronger the team bonds become as each builds on the other. Dramatic examples exist throughout the public and private sectors of the globe. As the saying goes, “One for all, and all for one.” But sometimes these bonds can pull so tightly that as an individual, you feel as if you are being strangled. Feeling like you are your own person, a true individual, becomes a balance point. As with many matters related to enterprising families, it's complicated.

When families share assets, their individual members exist on a continuum that stretches between connectedness and separateness. On the one hand, the interpersonal relationships are the strength of the family—what holds it together long-term, rather than the shared assets. On the other hand, separateness or individuality is a natural human state and need. People are happiest when they can exercise personal choice. Employees at all levels perform best when they have some control over their work processes. And this applies similarly to those involved with a family enterprise.

Family connection balanced with the ability to be separate retains family strength and sustainability. Connection gains strength through flexibility. If members feel they have ...

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