Developing a Harmonious Voice

Updated: Jan 26

A British family-held dynasty faced major challenges when the industry's regulatory environment began to change dramatically.

It was evident to family members that traditional British "club" style management was no longer tenable. Further, regulators were insisting that outsiders sit on the board.

The active partnership positions, including the role of the CEO, were held by the current generation, comprised of four cousins - two men, two women. However, the fathers and uncles that made up the previous generation were a daily presence and reminder of "how the company should be run." Meaningful communication had broken down between the two generations. In-fighting and frustration were hampering initiatives started by the cousins. In addition, a hands-off approach to managing employees was hindering the effectiveness of

client/manager relationships.

TAI was engaged by a non-executive director who had formerly worked with the company while at BCG. We conducted detailed interviews with Partners and employees, designing a two-year program specifically for the current generation. The solution focused on:

Self-Awareness: Each Partner uncovered the personal meaning and motivation under their decisions and interaction, enabling them to articulate their individual requirements for them to be effective leaders.

Empathy: The Partners learned to listen to and acknowledge the motivation and requirements of their cousins, better understanding and acknowledging their own and each other's strengths and limitations.

Alignment: The four cousins uncovered and codified shared principles and values, enabling them to create a Charter of Purpose for their partnership.

Communication: The Partners practiced active listening and effective speaking skills with each other, the older generation, the employees, and clients. This engaging interaction set the stage for increased innovation, productivity, and impact.

Over the two years, our client achieved results in three areas:

Personal Development: As the CEO said, "I was running a company, I was exploring philanthropy, I was not highly satisfied in my private life. This work gave me permission to address all three."

Team Development: "We had a certain friction with a previous generation. We managed that situation better. We had our own frictions, and we managed that better. Little by little, we got better at talking to one another."

Cultural Development: "The big noticeable change for us was when the generation before us stopped criticizing us. We began to speak, miraculously, with a more harmonious voice."

TAI's solution galvanized the current generation in a shared alliance in the service of necessary change, which included welcoming its first chairperson external to the family. This and other tradition-breaking innovations are evidence of their conscious commitment to ensuring the sustainability of this 300+-year-old family business in an ever-increasingly dynamic industry.

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