ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 33

with novel approaches. In tough
times, family enterprises, long known
in their communities for bold and
successful action, can be sources of
inspiration and reassurance for a range
of stakeholders.
Many of our clients are in critical
industries such as food, infrastructure,
housing and medicine, and they
are continuing to operate during
the coronavirus crisis. We hear that
they are swamped and challenged
beyond anything they've experienced
before. Others have been forced to
close their doors and send employees
home, still without knowing when
or how they will reopen. Many are
committed to continuing to pay loyal
staff as long as possible. Others have
continued to provide health insurance
to furloughed staff. Some have cut
their own ownership benefits for
the short term in order to maintain
operations and employment. Whatever the details of the situation, all of
these organizations have stakeholders
looking to them for information about
what's coming next and how next
steps will be managed.
In their words and actions, leaders
and owners of family firms have the
opportunity to be islands of caring
and calm in this storm. As they take
the podium, craft the email message,
open the Zoom call or speak directly
to anxious community members,
these leaders can draw support and
wisdom from their unique family
enterprise superpowers.
Some of the ways our clients have
approached communications with
critical stakeholders are listed here in
the hope that you will benefit from
the success of others:
*	 Establish a regular time and
format for communications to
create dependability in a time
of unpredictability. Consider a
weekly or even daily call or email
to stakeholders. One of our

clients has been holding morning
stand-up meetings for 30 minutes
at the start of each day to provide
updates and presence for a workforce working remotely for the
first time.
*	 Set a tone of calm, hope and
practicality, combined with realism and honesty. Include stories
and images as well as facts and
numbers. Speak to people's heads
and hearts in a way that is optimistically realistic. Inspire with
lessons from your history that
demonstrate proven competence.
*	 Draw a clear line between your
actions and your stated values. Although the connection is obvious
to you, it may need to be made
explicit to others.
*	 When communicating with
family shareholders, emphasize
the special advantages of being
private and ways you are taking
advantage of a long-term perspective. Share the actions and accomplishments of the leadership team,
whether it's in the family office
or operating business, to reassure
owners, especially those who
may be dependent on dividend
streams to support their lifestyle.
*	 Use existing family councils or
other family governance structures
in support of family communication and cohesion. Your family
council can help organize ways
to keep family members in closer
touch with each other. Shareholders not active in the business or
governance may feel great love for
the enterprise and want to offer
support from afar. The family
council could take this opportunity to be a vehicle for family members to express their support and
appreciation to business or family
office leaders who are addressing
the tough issues of this crisis.

STAY STRONG TO STAY CALM
You can only take advantage of your
superpowers if you make time to take
care of yourself and keep yourself
strong, calm and healthy. It appears
that this crisis is not a sprint, it is a
marathon. Here are a few concrete
actions we've seen others take to stay
strong and positive for the long term:
*	 Prioritize physical exercise, regular
meditation, time in nature or other spiritual practice so you can stay
grounded and strong for others.
*	 Even as you respond to emerging,
urgent demands, do your best
to preserve time and attention
for the long term. Continue
your work on important, but
perhaps not urgent, issues such as
mentoring future leaders, drawing
lessons from the current situation
and spending quiet time with
loved ones.
*	 Whatever lifts your spirits, makes
you smile or laugh - make time
for it. Be on the lookout for small
opportunities to pause and be
grateful for everything that is
going well at this moment. Make
a quick phone call to someone
who will give you an encouraging,
loving response. Nurture your
internal landscape with positive,
energizing thoughts and images
as much as possible.
Schuman is a senior advisor
at The Family Business
Consulting Group.

This is an excerpt from an article titled "Family Enterprise
Superpowers Offer Strength in
Tumultuous Times" that was originally published on the The Family
Business Consulting Group's website. It has been edited according
to Compoundings style.

33



ILMA Compoundings - July 2020

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