The Family Council: A Powerful Tool For Unity

What is a family council, and does your family business need one?

A family council is a very different animal than a Board of Directors, or even the less-formal advisory board. A family council fills an essential role in the family enterprise by providing you the opportunity to share and reaffirm your family and corporate culture. It provides a sounding board for family members who may not have a stake or role in the business, to exchange ideas and to shares points of view. A family council is the right vehicle to help family members bond with one another.  Perhaps it’s a family dinner, a family trip or even a family website.

What is your family’s mission? What are your shared core values? Within a family council these things can be discussed and codified, and be passed along to the next generation. Stories – about the family’s struggles, challenges, and victories – are important in defining your culture and creating a rich, meaningful legacy. The family council is a place where these stories can be shared and collected. Traditions and history that go untold are valueless once they’re forgotten and part of your stewardship should be their preservation.

No family is without its issues, whether they’re business or personal. The family council creates a safe place for points of contention to be discussed openly among family members. It’s both a space in which to clarify the boundaries between the family and the business, and to manage relationships between the two. Family members can talk about their expectations and hopes for the business, and their understandings of its future.

The family council provides a social outlet, allowing your family to share life events including weddings, births, deaths, and other life passages.

Lastly, the family council allows you to extend your reach into the larger world. You might choose to develop forums for learning such as communication skills and estate planning. You can explore and discuss joint philanthropic opportunities and perhaps consider the founding of a family bank to fund entrepreneurial ventures and explore investment opportunities. You can work together within this group to develop the image, responsibility, and reputation of the family in the community.

So, do you need a family council? At this point, you should be wondering how you’ve gotten by for so long without one.




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