At Egon Zehnder, we have worked with family businesses around the world since our founding in 1964. Our many experiences with the unique challenges and complexities that these businesses face prompted us to go deeper. We interviewed scores of family executives to better understand their sources of success—as well as their pain points.
We have learned that the primary concerns of today’s family business leaders are:
- CEO succession
- Digital transformation
- Global growth
On this journey, we also discovered what makes some family businesses more successful than others. We call this set of values and assets Family Gravity. We further explained this analysis in an April 2015 article in the Harvard Business Review.
The study presented on this site provides a framework for Family Gravity. Our research found that there are four archetypes of Family Businesses. Understanding which one a firm personifies helps them discover their culture and link their values more closely to their performance.
The Family Gravity Archetypes
The six elements of Family Gravity
Prospering as a family business, no matter which quadrant you fall into, requires, in our view, the following six elements of Family Gravity, expressed below both as a list and in an infographic:
1. Shared values that allow the family to differentiate itself in its markets
2. A vision for the future that enables decisive action
3. Cohesion and interaction that leads to resiliency and internal alignment
4. Clearly defined involvement in the business, providing the foundation for better decision-making
5. Family and corporate governance that reduces opportunities for conflict and supports a high-performance culture
6. Established leadership principles and roles that make for stronger talent pipelines and smoother leadership transitions
Family Gravity and Governance
No organization can succeed without proper governance. But governance is particularly challenging for family businesses, which have so many internal pressures in addition to normal business tension. Family Gravity helps business owners and CEOs of family firms to understand how they make decisions. That is the first step in creating a workable governance systemthat includes both the family and management.
For a more comprehensive look at our Family Gravity research, please download our report HERE. To speak with someone about what Egon Zehnder can offer your business, please contact our Family Business Advisory.