Bringing a Non-Family CEO Into a Family Business – When it’s the Right Thing to do and how to do it Effectively

CEOThere are several questions you should ask yourself when you are considering opening up the leadership of your family business to someone from outside of the family.  What’s the state of the family in terms of leadership today?  Is there someone qualified to take the reins, or is exploring options elsewhere the right approach?  What are the needs of the business?  Does bringing in an outside CEO with specific expertise drive where you want the business to go in the future?

Once you determine the answers to these questions and you are ready to take the next step, there are several considerations for helping to ensure this process is effective — the first, and most important, is communicate, communicate, communicate.  We cannot stress enough how critical it is to make sure there are no surprises to other family members.  Convey why this is being done and what the goals and objectives are for doing this.  With clear communication, family members will not be caught off-guard, and this will help to minimize any defensiveness someone may feel at the possibility of an “outsider” taking over the leadership.

This non-family CEO will become an intimate member of the family as a result of taking on this role.  Everyone involved needs to understand at the outset that to get where the business needs to go, it will be essential to be forthright and forthcoming with him or her.  He or she will be a part of the fabric of the organization and as such needs to be woven in throughout all of the layers to help the business grow and thrive.


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