Famous families of business icons
Famous families of business icons,Baton passing in the business world can be a tricky affair. In any leadership succession, egos are at risk, legacies are on the line. Add familial blood, and the combination can be emotionally explosive. Mishandling the succession process, says John Ward at the Center for Family Enterprises at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, “is the No. 1 issue facing family-business continuity and family-business harmony. It can be a tremendously painful life experience.”Indeed, life stages play a big role in the tension, or lack thereof, when parents pass the torch. The stormiest period for fathers and their sons is when the father nears retirement, says John Davis, faculty chair of the Families in Business program at Harvard Business School. “Stepping back from power tends to be a very difficult thing for a man to do,” says Davis. Meanwhile, “the son is biting at the bit, and is ready to step out of the father’s shadow.”
Still, when relationships are good, the handoff can go very well, with a level of trust that may not exist outside the family bonds. “By and large, what I see are relationships with some natural built-in competitiveness and tension, but which have the ability to see beyond their own personal issues to the greater good,” says Davis. That’s the nature of many of the most well-known active father-son or father-daughter pairs—or at least that’s how it appears publicly. Take a look at some of the most famous family relationships in business today.