What is the most important strength of Family Business leaders?

There are many opinions about the top strengths of family business leaders.

One of my recent projects answers that question.

We (Kent Rhodes, Ed.D) and I recently developed and validated a 360 assessment process for next generation family business leaders. See for details. We determined the top 50 items.

Our recent research found that the number 1, top strength, or Career Catalyst for family business leaders is Item 13: “Keeps confidences about family business wealth.”

Hmmm. On a scales of 1-10 how well does your family business keep confidences about family wealth? Here are some quick thoughts about how to apply this finding to your family enterprise or family business consulting.

For more details contact Doug Gray, Ph.D. at or Kent Rhodes (Ed.D.) at

Here is the transcript for your reference and sharing:

Video posted on Monday 1/16/23.


Title:  What is the most important strength for Family Business leaders?

Description on YouTube post:  A quick research update from
We can now answer that ancient question, “What is the most important strength of Family Business leaders?”  Here are some tips for your family enterprise or consulting.

Transcript of video:

Sometimes people wonder, “what are the top competencies that family business leaders need?”  And I’m happy to report some early results from the Assess Next Gen Family Business Leadership 360 assessment. This data is from 163 responses in the last few months.  Here is the top score, in other words, the Career Catalyst, the behavior that is number one. I’ll give it to you and then I’m going to ask you to reflect on it.

The top score, the thing that our raters said others ought to do, is item number 13: “Keep confidences about the family business wealth.”  To repeat,  the most important strength of Family Business leaders is to “keep confidences about family business wealth.”  What does that mean for you and your family or your enterprise?

I recently asked that question of a friend of mine, John Broons, who’s in Australia, who is pretty brilliant.  And he said, “family wealth needs to be part of the conversation.  It’s too often not discussed.” 

I agree.  We need to prepare for risks, like a transition or a succession or continuity or another line of business.  And too often family members don’t have any idea of what’s next.  There’s the core business. Perhaps there might be other lines of business, but family wealth conversations should definitely stay within the family.

Many of my clients have a charter or clause which states, “This is what we will say, and to whom.”   They may have a conversation with the wealth advisor and estate attorney, and they may not have that conversation with somebody like me, a business consultant.  The family members are the only ones who have access to that information. This is to protect them from journalists or politicians or inappropriate people seeking to learn something about that wealth. And often this confidentiality clause is written in an agreement. So we’re really talking about the two first words here…

Keep confidences.  The most important strength of Family Business leaders is to keep confidences.

How do we keep confidences?  I think we need to reinforce some useful guidelines.  My clients require  trust guidelines. Let me give you a quick example. One of my clients has eight G4 children on this side and four children on this other side. Potential conflicts, right?  So they made an agreement in writing, and verbally reinforced it in every one of their meetings, about what could be shared with Doug as the family business consultant working with that G4 generation. My focus is on leadership development. Part of my job is to reinforce for them what’s confidential and what they need to keep confidential.

It’s a bit like driving a car when you’re driving down an unfamiliar road.  You’ve got the white lines on the right side, the yellow lines on the left side.  Like a good driver, we need to keep confidences. We don’t want to go to the edge of those lines.  We don’t want to go off the center of the road. We certainly don’t want to go in the dirt or the gravel on the side.

So, my invitation is to keep confidences about family business wealth.  Keep that conversation sacred. There you go. Tip of the moment.

For more details on the Assess Next Gen Leadership 360 process, see

Or schedule me at contact us

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Hello friends,

As a leader, you are faced with difficult decisions every day and the larger the organization gets, the more decisions there are to be made. Should you spend money during challenging times or hold on to as much cash as you can? Do you focus on serving current customers or attracting new customers? Is it time to invest in financials or in relationships?

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We discussed the template below.

Often when I meet a new coaching client I use this template to help them identify those they work with, and the behaviors required for their success. Some people can assess others quickly. Others require a structure to list what to say/do. No one ever wants to “stick their foot in their mouth.”

You can adopt this template to coaching your team, when taking notes, or when practicing leadership. Try it.

I’ve used it for decades with hundreds of leaders.

Here is the gist:

The result is a dated snapshot of my summary, that validates the other people’s values, reminds me of what to say/do, and indicates possible next steps.

  1. List the team/ board members in rows so that you keep them organized.  Add any other key team members/ board observers.  Add contact info/ affiliations. List no more than 5-7 leaders so that you can stay focused on them.
  2. Column 1 is “Values”.  Ask yourself what each person values, list 4-6 values based on what they say/do. If you need a list of values go to, or take the PIAV (Personal Interests, Attitudes and Values) assessment with me.
  3. Column 2 is “What should I say/do”.  If someone values their ego/ own voice, then you can publicly validate them when you agree. If they want to be addressed formally, then be sure to do so consistently.
  4. Column 3 is “What should I NOT say/do.” If someone requires time to verbally process new ideas, then please do NOT interrupt them. If they are conflict avoidant, then do not confront them publicly for non-critical issues…
  5. Column 4 is “Next steps.”  I use this column to note people/ articles/ resources that the leader may appreciate.  These notes provide a simple structure for me to follow up, if useful.

I encourage you to adopt this template and PRACTICE leadership. Today. What are you waiting for?

Then contact me and share your success story or questions.

All your best, Doug