Risking failure during a farm transfer
Paul said, “My son will never be able to do what I did and will never be able to succeed like I have.” Paul’s pride, unfortunately, has reached an unhealthy and destructive level. He is a 60-year-old farmer who started with nothing and built up a prosperous company, attaining impressive success. That is all to his credit, but the problem is that his ego is as developed as his business. There’s nothing wrong with that, you think? What happens, however, when the ego won’t even fit through the doorway anymore?
Observing family businesses from many sectors reveals some failures attributable to the founders’ styles. The “one man show” kind of style inevitably leads to failure during a transfer. The qualities that helped the entrepreneur achieve success can also lead directly to failure. In fact, being independently-minded, having their own way, making all the decisions alone, having a strong need to be personally identified with the success of the business, not consulting with anyone else, having an authoritarian and dominant approach, pursuing their objectives and being energetic and competitive are often the character traits of entrepreneurs. In a certain context, those traits may lead to success, but we can imagine the havoc they create in partnerships involving either family members or others.
Ironically, some entrepreneurs having achieved major professional success may have perpetual doubts about their own worth. In some cases, it is more important to the father that his children not “outdo” him than it is to ensure the success of the business, even if to do so implies significant financial loss. The ego wins its war against the balance sheet because human beings tend to be more emotional than rational. Exactly how does a “one man show” type of father interact with his children? Here is how Antoine, Paul’s son, responds to that question:
“He never congratulates me or recognizes my accomplishments, or my successes, but takes all the credit when they work and puts me down me when I make a mistake. I have the impression that he is constantly trying to find faults in me. He has no interest in my needs, my expectations or my interests. He doesn’t discuss anything with me, but he makes all the decisions and then makes demands of me. I’m 35 years old, and he treats me as if I were still 15.”
The “one man show” types should avoid partnerships because they will sabotage their businesses and their relationship with their family, often unconsciously. The “one man show” type is only interested in continuing his show alone and waiting for the curtain to fall so that he can sit back and relish in his achievements. However, he needs to know that after the show is over and the applause dies away, he will be alone in his dressing room. No one will be there to celebrate with him.
Work Psychologist, professionnal speaker, author and business coach