By, For, With

Most people don’t give much thought to prepositions as they go through their day-to-day lives.

Of course, I’m not “most people”, and neither are you!

I recently noticed some places where these short words actually carry a lot of weight in the world of business families, and so I thought I’d share them here.


For the Family

Regular readers know that when I talk about family businesses, I typically move quickly over to the point of view of the business family, where “family” is the noun, and carries more importance.

So don’t be surprised that I lean towards thinking about doing things “for” the family.


By the Family

The main thing I typically emphasize when talking about doing things for the family, is that it always helps when those things are also done by the family.

Now just to be clear, there are actually two distinct important parts to my “by the family” mantra.

The first one is that something for the family ideally comes from within the family as opposed to coming from outside. Not that I have anything against families hiring outsiders to do some of the work with them.

As long as the outsiders aren’t doing that work for them, meaning that the outsider does it instead of them doing it themselves.

The second aspect is that it’s better when the work isn’t just done by one family member, but rather by a group.

If one person does all the work, you can’t really say it was done by the family.


Who Is the Outside Advisor there FOR?

Let’s get back to the idea of bringing in an outside person to work with you as a resource for some of this important and complex work.

You really all need to figure out who that advisor is there for.

If they were hired by one person, ostensibly to work for the family, there can be some difficulties going forward.

If they are working with the family, they need to be working for the family.

Some advisors really get this, in their brain and in their heart and in their spirit. Some others, well, not so much.

Please be on the lookout for this.


Can an Advisor Work for Just One Person?

Now we’re getting to a slightly different question. In the context we’ve been discussing, my thoughts are pretty clear as outlined above.

And, I’d also like to share with you some recent experiences where I have been successfully working with one single person from a business family.

The work I began a little over a year ago to get my coaching certification led me on a path to find some one-on-one clients to satisfy the minimum coaching hours for the program.

This also led to some eye-opening for me, about the power of this kind of relationship.


Changing a System

One of the first things we need to understand is that for a system, such as a family, to change, the change may very well come from a change in just one person, at the outset.

A single person who is a part of a system of people, can change the system, if they make a change and hold to their new way of being with the other members of that system.

Holding to that change can sometimes be difficult, because the other members of that system will try to force that person back to their old ways, in order to maintain the previous homeostasis, or equilibrium.

One way for a person to gain the strength to make and hold such changes, is for them to work with an outside coach.


Some Caveats

I’m sure you can see that this can get tricky, and can really only work well if both the coach and the individual client agree at the outset that they would be satisfied if their relationship never progressed further, such that the coach would eventually work with the entire family group.

If it’s seen as a “foot in the door” to a larger eventual arrangement, there’s a risk that the important work they can do will be rushed or not be done seriously.


With You, For You, For your Family

Getting back to our prepositions, a coach is such situations is there “with you” and “for you”.

The underlying assumption is that you are doing what you are doing “for your family”.