Lansberg·Gersick & Associates
Advising the world's leading family enterprises
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Family Council Development

Investing in family governance

The work of family governance needs dedicated leadership to accomplish its tasks.

Family matters penetrate to our deepest level. They are the mill that grinds our flour, the lathe that gives us our shape. They are irresistibly momentous.
— John Updike

In our experience, families that rely on ad hoc conversations and brief business discussions attached to holiday gatherings are not able to effectively meet the challenges of oversight and continuity. Once the number of family stakeholders (shareholders and beyond) expands beyond a single nuclear family, there is a need for an annual gathering (a Family Assembly), and eventually an executive committee — a Family Council —  to focus the essential governance work.

A Family Council is a working group serving at the discretion of the family as a whole, to manage activities that provide continuity in family values, identity, education, and socialization; and to give guidance to the family directors about the family’s interest in policies of the enterprise. The council serves as an executive committee of the Family Assembly in between meetings and oversees and coordinates the work of the committees.

A Family Council agenda may include:

  • Discussing the family’s core values, culture, and mission statement
  • Designing activities to educate younger generations about the family and support contact among cousins
  • Overseeing the process for electing family representation on Boards, councils, trustee groups
  • Overseeing the management of the family’s collective assets
  • Organizing family events and celebrations
  • Creating a family constitution or handbook to clarify the family's unique heritage, common goals, and governing policies
  • Organizing a family legacy, biography, or history project

LGA helps business families design and implement Family Councils with guidance on size, membership, election procedures, agenda setting, leadership selection and coaching, process facilitation for initial meetings, and communication expectations between the Council and family members.

Contact us to learn more about our research and advisory work on Family Councils.

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