Posted on

Joining the family | FBI Network Meeting 26 March 2018 – Key Takeaways

Presented by:  Ross Anderson, Coaching & Leadership International (FBI Faculty).

Presented by:  Ross Anderson, Coaching & Leadership International (FBI Faculty).

Our 2018 theme:  Behaviour-based strategies to support logical solutions explores the forces at play in business families that prevent obviously “correct and appropriate” advice from being implemented, frequently at a dramatic cost to the family, and to the frustration of its adviser(s).

Ross has worked with many business families over many years, and helped to develop the emotional intelligence (“EQ”) components of the FBI curriculum.

Here are my key takeaways:

  1. Families should be regarded as complex systems that constantly seek balance. Typically, the greater its issues in one area, the more compensation it makes in others, to restore balance. Every family business advisory assignment should consider the impact of its inputs on that balance, and on the entire family system.
  2. Families and businesses naturally represent very different systems. Combining them in a family business inevitably generates dynamic tensions.
  3. Significant interventions with families disrupt their systems. Most family systems learn to cope with disruptions caused by family members, but many lack coping mechanisms to deal with unfamiliar, professional inputs.  Correct and appropriate advice to family members may be ignored or misinterpreted when it passes through the family’s filter.
  4. Continuing to pressure a family member to adopt and implement your excellent advice may only add to their stress and activate their limbic system (reptilian brain – fight or flight response). At that point there’s little chance your advice will be implemented and you’ll be at risk of damaging, or ending, your relationship.
  5. Major challenges to advisers include detecting and responding constructively to the family’s assertions that they understand:
    1. What their problems are.
    2. Who the family villain(s) are.
    3. Who the family’s heroes are.
    4. What needs to be done to fix the family’s problem, and/or the villain.
  6. Families often settle into stable, toxic structures, complete with emotionally constructed perceptions that are almost invisible/incomprehensible to outsiders. This is the Karpman Drama Triangle.
  7. New inputs upset that stability and impel the family towards change and the unknown. If they’re not able or ready for those changes, they’ll resist them.


  1. Then again, according to Karpman, family members will shift positions to satisfy their own needs in what psychs call: “the toxic dance”:

  2. To be and to remain effective, advisers need to maintain their professional, rational and emotional independence. This requires constant self-monitoring,  recognition of the working parts in the family system, and highly developed Emotional Intelligence to make sense of it all.

FBI Network meetings are held on the last Monday of the month, from February to November, and guests are welcome.  Attendees can connect remotely, using Zoom.

For more information about Ross:                     


Written by Family Business Institute

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *