ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 32

BUSINESS HUB

Superpowers Offer
Strength in Tumultuous
Times
By Amy Schuman

F

amily firms have special characteristics and abilities that make
them stand out in a crowd. You
might think of these qualities as family
enterprise "superpowers." During
times of intense disruption, family
firms can deploy their superpowers
to build strength for the future -
not just for themselves, but for all
who depend upon them. As former
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, paraphrasing Winston Churchill, advised:
"You never let a serious crisis go to
waste. And what I mean by that, it's
an opportunity to do things you think
you could not do before."
Strong family firms succeed
across the generations because of a
commitment and ability to grow
through adversity. They reinvent their
businesses when industries change.
They harvest and redeploy assets in
family offices as good stewards of what
they have been given. They create
foundations to direct their wealth into
important initiatives that benefit us all.
These are the results of special characteristics shared by family enterprises
around the world.
The following special characteristics,
or superpowers, characterize many
family businesses:
*	 Caring, involved presence in
large and small communities,
where the family enterprise supports local hospitals, parks, and

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JULY 2020

| COMPOUNDINGS | ILMA.ORG

religious and arts organizations,
as well as numerous individuals
and families.
*	 Long-term time frame that leads
family businesses to perceive
and pursue opportunities for
superior performance that are
overlooked or invisible to public
firms forced to show short-term
quarter-to-quarter results.
*	 Legacy values that guide decision-making, allowing family
enterprises to make decisions
and take actions that place moral,
ethical and human considerations
as important priorities.
*	 Contrarian strategies that family
firms pursue because they can
perceive opportunities for service
and innovation (and profitability)
that are invisible to others.
*	 Both/and thinking, where family
firms develop a superior ability to

address stubborn problems and
can find ways to prioritize both
family and business, employee
safety and critical operations, care
for the individual and care for the
community.
Each of these superpowers offers
tremendous support and wisdom in
times of crisis.
ISLANDS OF CALM IN A STORM OF
UNCERTAINTY
When family business leaders state
their commitment to the long haul,
it's not just empty words, it's their
proven way of operating. When they
say they will continue to be guided by
their legacy values, they have decades
of history backing up their claims.
When they sit down to navigate seemingly impossible dilemmas, they have
generations of experience addressing
similar tensions successfully. It's not
the first or last time they will address
seemingly unsolvable problems


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ILMA Compoundings - July 2020

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