“Most advisors don’t have the guts to make the tough decisions,” the advisor said smugly as he described his latest business move. He had just fired his son—for the second time—and was reeling off a litany of people he had fired as if they were his 10 Greatest Hits. Included in his list were custodians he had terminated, investment managers he had stopped using and the marriage he had ended. I couldn’t help thinking that this advisor’s “gutsy” decision-making might yield less than heroic results.
This conversation curiously contrasted with a meeting I’d had earlier that day with another advisor who proudly shared how he brought his son into the business 20 years ago. Not only was their partnership flourishing, but the son had taken over management of the business and was improving on what the father had started. I consulted with this firm many years prior and vividly recall this individual’s method of careful evaluation and deliberate decision making.
I found the juxtaposition of these two meetings intriguing as both firms include a parent-child relationship. I can easily imagine one family’s holiday dinners as more joyful than the other. In reality, their work environments also differ: One is more driven and the other more nurturing; one is more performance-oriented and the other more relationship-oriented. Most business leaders have a certain style in relating to people, including close relatives. A leader’s management approach permeates the firm.