I’ve written about Family Alignment a few times in this space, notably here: (blog) 5 Things you Need to Know: Family Alignment and on my website, here (whitepaper) Family Alignment:What IT Is, Why You Need It, How To Build It. And I even recorded a video (or Vlog) about it.
Lately, though, there’s a related word that’s been popping up in my life, so I want to talk about how the two words and concepts fit together, or not!
That word, as you can guess from the headline, is “alliance”
Designing the Alliance
Some readers know that I’m well into the 6+ month journey of my professional coaching certification process. This has helped me up my “one-on-one game” when working with client families, and, consequently, the individuals who make up those families.
An important concept in the coach-client relationship is always the “designed alliance” that they co-create, which then defines the relationship they have and how they’ll work together.
It’s not unlike the “ground rules” that a family or any group working together might design to govern their meetings and their working relationship.
Dispensing with the Dreaded “Survivor” Analogy
Of course there are other places where the word “alliance” comes up with a different meaning altogether, as reality TV fans will recognize. I’m a huge fan of Survivor, where being in the right “alliance” is often the difference between winning and losing.
On that show, each week someone is voted off and sent home, while those who remain continue to fight each other for the million-dollar prize that gets awarded to the lone survivor at the end of each season.
Can we all please agree that family business in its best form bears little resemblance to this format?
Alignment of Values, Vision and Goals
Families in business together can always benefit from taking the time to define their common values, and to make sure that many of their individual values are aligned for the good of the family enterprise.
Likewise, a family vision, and the goals the family sets for itself, are typically easier to reach when all of the family members are united and aligned behind a common vision and common goals.
So alignment, in general, is good, and should be worked on. How about alliances?
Where Alliances CAN Work in FamBiz
Alliances in business families can be a bit trickier, especially when certain sub-groups of people, possibly from various branches of the family, begin to work at cross purposes to others. This is when things can begin to go off the rails.
But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any ways where certain types of alliances can be beneficial. Here are a couple…
When I work with rising generation sibling groups, I might not necessarily use the word “alliance” with them, but it’s usually pretty clear that what I’m encouraging them to do is to act as much like an “alliance” as possible.
Such sibling groups are usually much more likely to get the cooperation with their parents than any single son or daughter would be on their own.
Realistically, sibling relationships will usually be the longest lasting relationships that most people will have in their lifetimes, longer than the relationships we each have with our parents, or with our children.
It stands to reason then, that care should be taken and time should be spent on making sure that these relationships are as strong and healthy as possible. When a group of siblings can begin to think of themselves as an alliance, I think that’s a good thing.
Teamwork in Each Circle
When people work together in any of the three circles (family, business, ownership) it can be useful for them to think of themselves as an alliance as well.
If a niece and her aunt are the ones who take care of things for the family council, it can make sense for them to design their work in an allied way.
Likewise, if there is an ownership group that meets periodically, those who lead that set of activities can find strength in allying their activities as well.
Design an Re-Design as Needed
And of course let’s not forget the importance of designing and then re-designing all of these alliances as needed, on an ongoing basis.
The time taken to reassess how groups of people work together is always worth it, and the need for these systems to evolve over time as things and people change cannot be overstated.
Get aligned, AND create the alliances you need.