On Rules, Relationships, Rebellion, and Respect
Connecting the Dots on all these “R-words”
Regular readers (thanks!) know that my inspirations for these weekly musings are varied and eclectic. I’ve had a number that’ve come from listening to the radio while driving, and this is another of those.
This week I’m delving into something I heard that made me look for a place to pull my car over, so that I could jot down the exact words I heard before I could forget them.
I didn’t have to go that far, because thankfully I hit a long enough red light to grab a pen and piece of paper to get the key words down.
I think you’ll like what I heard, because although the words were relayed in a sports context, they also apply to the world of family enterprises and the relationships therein.
Who Makes the Rules?
There’s a search feature on my website that I’m certain I use more than everyone else combined, because after writing hundreds of blogs over the past 8 years or so, there are few topics I haven’t touched on, at least tangentially.
So I searched “rules”, and noted that I had used that word in a blog title just a few months back, see On Rules of Engagement for FamBiz
The rules we’re going to be talking about here are slightly different, because they refer more to how people relate to each other over the years as they work on the details of how they govern the business of owning and managing assets together.
See Who Gets to Decide Who Gets to Decide for more.
A Basketball Coaching Relationship
Back to the radio quote. Jack Armstrong is a TV broadcaster on NBA games in Canada, covering mostly the Toronto Raptors.
He also does radio hits a few times a week on various sports radio stations, where he chats with the local radio hosts about goings-on in the world of basketball.
On this day a few weeks ago, he was talking about a team that had recently gone through some turmoil due to a coach who was probably acting a bit too “old school” with some of his key players.
This prompted the quote that I rushed to jot down:
Rules without Relationships = Rebellion
Rules with Relationships = Respect + Results
So that means that the key to making rules work for you, as opposed to against you, is the existence of quality relationships with those you are trying to “rule over”, or even “rule with”.
Making Rules for Working with Family
When thinking about rules in a family context, we normally imagine scenarios where parents make the rules for their children.
This is natural and works well enough as long as the children are young enough to accept being “ruled over”, and quickly loses effectiveness as they begin to want to assert more control over their choices.
That life stage rarely lasts as long as the parents would like, forcing them to change how they interact with their offspring as they mature.
When you think about it, it’s all about adapting your relationships to the situation, which need to evolve over time.
When my kids were young teens, it was much easier for me to “make them” do something or “forbid them” from doing something else.
Now that they are young adults, if I would like them to do something, my approach needs to be much different. I have also learned to adjust my expectations accordingly, but that’s a whole other topic!
The Need for Self-Control and Autonomy
Family business contexts by their very nature typically involve plenty of situations that have some rules inherent in them, due to the hierarchy in the business.
When you look at other family situations where there is a certain level of financial wealth present, with or without a current operating business, the family rules can be a bit trickier to impose.
As the rising generation family members mature, they have a natural desire and need to exert as much control over their lives as possible.
Too often, their parents resist this and unfortunately tend to revert to ways to use their financial resources as a way to enforce their preferred outcomes.
Respect Over Rebellion
If you are a parent who wants to have the respect of your offspring, and you want to avoid the pitfalls of rebellion, the secret is to work on your relationships.
Easier said than done, of course, but therein lies the key.