In the volatile world of business ownership, time is a finite resource, and circumstances can take unexpected turns. Whether it's grappling with illness, navigating conflicts, weathering financial storms, or facing the reasons why family businesses collapse, preparation is the key to preserving both business and family harmony.
So, the question is simple: Will you listen to this call and take action, or will you let problems and complacency ruin your family's dreams? The power to decide lies squarely in your hands, but the solution is crystal clear — Succession Planning, a comprehensive mechanism designed to ensure the seamless transition of family businesses to set the stage for a thriving and harmonious future.
To equip family enterprises with the tools for enduring business longevity and inspire them to secure their legacy, leading Asia Pacific-based Strategic Advisory firm, W+B Advisory Group, in partnership with executive events organizer ICON Executive Asia, presented an event on August 19 at Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria titled "Family Business Continuity: Ensuring a Fail-Proof Succession Plan." This groundbreaking conference, also serving as ICON Executive Asia's flagship event, has been nothing short of a powerful platform that empowered business owners and leaders with the knowledge and strategies needed to navigate the unique challenges faced by family enterprises.
"Family Business Continuity" explored innovative strategies and time-tested practices poised to redefine the future of family enterprises. The event featured esteemed speakers, including next-generation leaders Mr. Lance Gokongwei and Mr. Kevin Tan and renowned experts Prof. Enrique Soriano and Dr. Josh Baron.
More than just a COO (Child of the Owner)
Left to oversee vast business empires with the task of preserving the founding generation's visionary legacy and ideals, both JG Summit Holdings President and CEO Lance Gokongwei and Alliance Global Group CEO Kevin Tan knew a thing or two about navigating the intricacies of leading a diverse family-owned enterprise as next-generation leaders.
Lance Gokongwei's ascent to leadership in their family conglomerate JG Summit Holdings was a tale of staying rooted in the family's core ethos, proactively preparing for the future, and keeping up with the times. His journey reflects the intricate dynamics that often define family businesses, where tradition meets practicality and the founding generation's values and principles stand as a steadfast moral compass not only for the family but also the entire business.
Lance was honed from a young age to carry on his father's visionary legacy. While it was expected that he and his sisters would continue their father's work, the weight of this obligation was particularly pronounced for Lance as the sole male heir. Without hesitation, he embraced the role of the torchbearer of his father's vision, embodying a deep sense of responsibility ingrained in the family's principles.
What sets Lance's leadership apart is that while he enjoyed certain privileges during his time due to the scale of their business then and a sense of duty, he wants the future generation to come in more prepared and well-deserved as he calls on fellow leaders to encourage the next-gen to deliberately pursue practical skills and real-world experience outside the family business – and probably make mistakes that impact not just themselves – before actually getting down to business to prepare them for the storm that is business ownership or management.
A Crash Course to the Tan Leadership
Gokongwei's sentiments were echoed by the crash course to the Tan family's leadership.
Tough love in the Tan family was a constant as visionary tycoon Andrew L. Tan believed that genuine leadership is born from the trials and tribulations of self-made success and not solely an inheritance based on blood ties or privilege—it demanded the ability to navigate the broader world of business with hard-earned achievements and skills outside the sheltered realm of the family business. Hence, Kevin Tan's leadership was built upon this, along with the essence and value of living a life of integrity.
The stringent standards set by ATL and how Kevin was brought up were not without their challenges, but they instilled in Kevin a strong work ethic and a relentless pursuit of excellence. He learned that success in the real world requires grit, determination, and the ability to overcome adversity of all kinds and levels. Through this journey, Kevin became not just the heir to a family legacy but a leader who had earned his place through hard work and dedication.
Guiding force for Family Businesses
Regarding the technical aspects of steering a family business towards resilience and long-term success, ASEAN Business Turnaround Advisor Prof. Enrique Soriano and Harvard Business Review author and Harvard Business School senior lecturer Dr. Josh Baron emerged as guiding lights for business owners.
The Goldilocks Zone
Dr. Josh Baron's insights provided a comprehensive perspective on managing conflict within family businesses, with a central theme on balance. He emphasized the importance of finding the middle ground of conflict to achieve a healthy and constructive level within family enterprises, as excessive conflict could be as damaging as having too little.
In his advice, Baron discouraged settling for superficial harmony and instead encouraged family businesses to embrace and leverage constructive conflict as a catalyst for improvement. Additionally, he stressed the need to understand the triggers of conflicts, particularly those arising from unexpected disruptions, emphasizing that blaming individuals for such conflicts was counterproductive.
Lastly, Baron cautioned against the overuse of conflict management strategies because, same with conflict itself, excessive utilization could lead to negative implications.
Building Your Ark and Adversity Quotient
Prof. Soriano delivers a sobering reminder to business owners of managing a business: you can never manage one from the grave. So, he urges business owners to carefully prepare for whatever challenge may arise along the journey of entrepreneurship, likening it to constructing one's own Noah's Ark, then posing a thought-provoking question: "What kind of person will you be in those unfortunate moments?"
Beyond just being 'prepared,' Prof. Soriano hopes leaders are equipped with the right Adversity Quotient (AQ) level in response to his lingering question. In his words, AQ measures one's capacity to overcome setbacks, take calculated risks, and persevere in pursuing their entrepreneurial vision.
Therefore, he exemplifies the significance of resilience when faced with adversity, drawing inspiration from Jackie Chan since, much like the action star who had either sustained broken bones or other injuries in every movie, family business founders encounter significant challenges behind each achievement, from limited resources to navigating complex business landscapes. Through these challenges, founders, like Chan, deepen their capacity to cope with failure, adapt their strategies, and persevere – all contributing factors to one's AQ.
Ultimately, as he underscores the finite nature of time in the unpredictable journey of business ownership, Prof. Soriano urges family business owners not only to bear but also endure to navigate life's unpredictabilities with resilience and foresight.