I recently had the pleasure of talking with Dr. Anne Francis, the author of The Daughter Also Rises: How Women Advance in Family Business.
A psychologist and an experienced family business consultant, Anne has a deep understanding of family dynamics. During our conversation she shared several interesting insights about fathers and daughters working together.
“It’s important for a daughter working in the family business to appreciate that her dad was once a little boy. Little boys grow up learning how to compete, to be self-reliant, and often, to believe that they alone are responsible for the ongoing success of any endeavor they participate in, including the family business.“
Anne adds that many fathers are not comfortable sharing their feelings or asking for help.
In contrast, little girls typically grow up learning to articulate their feelings and to cooperate with others. They tend to be attentive to relationships and to be more intuitive than boys. When working together as adults the father/daughter relationship experiences new challenges, but also new possibilities.
Adult daughters tend to be more comfortable engaging employees and building team relationships, a leadership style that can make their dads uneasy. Dads may be concerned that their daughters are overly attentive to their employees’ concerns, and lack the independence they need to make tough decisions.
The good news is that fathers and daughters can learn from each other.
As daughters learn more about what Anne calls “the man behind the entrepreneur,” they learn to identify, appreciate and respect the courage and commitment it takes to sustain a family business.
And as dads learn to talk openly with their daughters about their challenges, they feel less alone and more supported. They learn to appreciate cooperation as the leadership asset it is. And, perhaps, by modeling their daughter, they learn to listen to what their employees have to say about how to improve the business.
“It takes a great deal of maturity for daughters and fathers to see one another as real people, and to accept their blind spots even as they appreciate their strengths”, Anne observed.
Moving from father and daughter to partners in business is not always easy, but the rewards can be great — for you, your dad, and your business.