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La propriété responsable : connaissance, communication, compassion - Extrait du livre "Enabling Next Generation Legacies"

taking notes at a meeting

Résultat de nombreuses années de recherche et d’expérience pratique à l’échelle internationale, cet ouvrage s’intéresse aux défis particuliers auxquels font face les entreprises familiales. 

Peter Jaskiewicz et Sabine Rau, membres du corps professoral de l’École de gestion Telfer, ont réuni des universitaires, des familles entrepreneuriales ainsi que des praticiennes et praticiens mondialement reconnus afin de répondre, de manière brève, concise et néanmoins pertinente, aux questions les plus pressantes auxquelles est confrontée la prochaine génération. 

Fort de l’apport de quelque cent collaboratrices et collaborateurs issus de 27 pays, le livre présente les pratiques exemplaires, des exemples concrets ainsi que des questions essentielles visant à susciter la réflexion. Les commentaires d’experts proviennent de membres des entreprises familiales les plus importantes du monde, dont Auchan (France), Saputo (Canada), and Sabra (Israël), ainsi que de divers spécialistes universitaires travaillant dans des écoles de gestion renommées telles que KelloggIMD, et INSEAD

Vous trouverez ci-dessous la réponse à une question pressante qui se pose aux entreprises familiales. 

L’article suivant (dans sa version originale anglaise) présentera le commentaire d’une personne de la prochaine génération au sein d’une entreprise familiale.

It is difficult to imagine that we can become responsible business owners one day. What type of development path can we pursue to learn more about becoming responsible owners?

Response by Rosa Nelly Trevinyo-Rodríguez, México, and Miguel Ángel Gallo, Spain

Developing the talents of Next Gens as potential, responsible owners is a high priority for 67 percent of global families in business and their family offices. But the success of such ownership education programs and internships is mixed.i  Why is it that some Next Gens manage to become responsible owners and others do not?
Becoming a responsible owner takes time, effort, and commitment. It’s a continuous, never-ending process influenced by our knowledge and business competence, as well as by our motivations, emotions, and experiences. Viewed in this way, what type of actions shall Next Gens embrace in order to build up and nurture a solid, responsible business owner track?

1. Committing to the Owners’ Role: Exploring Ownership Matters

Becoming a (future) good family business owner implies voluntarily embracing the (future) ownership role and committing to it. Yet, in order to do so, Next Gens are expected to have enough information, education, and professional skills. Understanding owners’ rights and responsibilities as well as learning about corporate law, governance structures, estate planning, fiduciary arrangements, talent management, employee relations, business financial statements, and tax matters are all fundamentals in order to join the starting line of the family business “responsible business owner track.”  
Next Gens must also pursue a specific training related to their own family company. Attending company visits, taking part in meetings with top management teams, and having briefings with high-profile managers, executives, and board members will help in this process. Gaining knowledge of their family business history, values, and vision will help Next Gens realize their heritage. In addition, grasping the family firm’s strategy, market potential, business units and operational processes, products and services, and budgetary elements will allow Next Gens to better understand the here and now of their business.

2. Communicating Well: Active Listening and Empathy

Making conscious, individual efforts to get to know, care about and enjoy all family members is essential if a long-term personal and professional relationship is to be sought. Trust-building for Next Gens begins with developing the habit of calling or texting each family member every month—just to stay tuned. Yet, communicating well takes practice, effort, active listening, and empathy.
Case in point: Mathias wants to talk to his older brother—the CEO of the family business—about starting his own new enterprise. He needs a sounding board rather than more time to think alone. Both agree to meet for coffee that evening. After greeting each other, Mathias starts sharing his ideas for about two minutes. His older brother interrupts him and brings up certain business problems he is facing. Then, his phone rings. After the fifteen-minute call, the CEO brother says, “Bro, just look at the size of our family firm. We are a global business. Considering setting up such a tiny enterprise is nonsense, and anyway, we are not investing in it, so don’t even bother. Let’s focus on the actual business problems we have to solve, okay?” He stands up, gives his brother a pat on the shoulder and leaves.   
Communicating well requires stopping whatever we are doing to pay attention, listen, and value what the other person has to say—while not assuming what the other wants—and interpreting the emotions behind the words. Feeling heard and understood builds up trust and caring among family members. Patronizing and ignoring a family member’s ideas and feelings shuts down the communication process and drives division and indifference.

3. Nurturing Legitimacy: Learning to Carry Out an Insightful Use of (Future) Power

Legal ownership and its voting rights are the most straightforward types of authority owners can exert. Legitimacy is, on the other hand, an intangible asset tied to knowledge, prestige, and good reputation deriving from moral authority that provides the basis for cementing alliances, inspiring people, and influencing decision-making. While legal power is granted, legitimacy—both in the family and in the business—is gained, nurtured, and constantly upgraded. Next Gens must strive to attain legitimacy early in their life (even before having or exercising legal ownership), and committing themselves to advance it by practicing compassionate attitudes, such as:

  • Humbleness. Avoiding the “I know it all/I deserve it all” attitude. Valuing others and being open to learn and seek feedback from predecessors, employees, advisors, and other family members. ii

As an illustration: When Susan was appointed to the board of directors of her family company, she recognized that even when she had an MBA and seven years of working experience, she was not fully prepared to serve as a board member. Thus, she asked for help. The board assigned her an external mentor who accompanied her as full-fledged member of the board of directors for one-and-a-half years. “It was the most valuable experience I could have had. It allowed me to practice and learn—that is, to make errors without messing up with the firm—and to become a valuable board member.”

  • Coherence. By respectfully noticing inappropriate or disrespectful behaviors among family or nonfamily members, and taking action on them, Next Gens live and reinforce their values, gaining credibility and good reputation.
  • Family Diplomacy. Next Gens must consider the welfare of all stakeholders and become skilled at the practice of consensus building, committing themselves to cultivate, build and rebuild the family business owners’ relationships. Fostering family-wide activities (i.e., family assemblies) to promote inclusion and transparency helps to integrate family members (owners) and to align their collective interests.
  • Gratitude. Being conscious and thankful of all the positive things one has received from the family and business, valuing the efforts (sacrifices) made by predecessors and realizing that ownership rights are not granted, is fundamental for Next Gens to build up their moral authority. Moreover, since stewardship and gratitude go hand in hand, this practice also entails nurturing the family’s legacy and preparing, in due course, a potential successor.

To Wrap Things Up

Committing to forge a responsible owner career is a never-ending process that involves family and business acumen, personal interest, passion for doing well by doing good, communication and consensus building skills, the practice of humbleness, coherence, family diplomacy, and gratitude as well as tons of prudence and moderation. A responsible Next Gen owner turns out to be an engine and a vehicle of family cohesion. Their commitment to behave in a professional and judicious way—family- and business-wise—compels other family members (owners) to stick together, and in this way, secures the future of the family’s shared business dream.

Rosa Nelly Trevinyo-Rodríguez, PhD, contribue à la pratique ainsi qu’à la création et la diffusion de connaissances dans le domaine des entreprises familiales depuis une vingtaine d’années. Elle est présidente-directrice générale de Trevinyo-Rodríguez & Associates (une organisation qui conseille les familles en affaires), fondatrice du centre des entreprises familiales du Tec de Monterrey et auteure du livre à succès Family Business: A Latin-American Perspective. Membre du conseil d’administration d’importantes entreprises familiales, elle s’emploie à conseiller des bureaux de gestion de patrimoine unique. Elle a donné plus de 150 cours et conférences internationales pour cadres et est devenue la première présidente latino-américaine du comité thématique international et de la division des services-conseils en gestion de l’Academy of Management. 
Miguel Ángel Gallo, PhD, est professeur émérite en gestion générale à l’IESE Business School (Espagne), où il a occupé les postes de professeur titulaire (1975-2003) et de directeur des programmes de doctorat (1980-1990). Directeur fondateur de la première chaire de recherche sur les entreprises familiales en Europe, il en a été le titulaire à partir de sa création en 1987 jusqu’en septembre 2003. Ses domaines de spécialisation comprennent la gestion stratégique, les conseils d’administration et les entreprises familiales. Le professeur Gallo est membre de la Royal European Academy of Doctors et de la Strategic Management Society, en plus d’exercer les fonctions de président honoraire de l’International Family Enterprise Research Academy (IFERA). Il a siégé au conseil d’administration des grandes sociétés Grupo VELATIA, Fuertegroup et Grupo Senda. 

Enabling Next Generation Legacies: 35 Questions That Next Generation Members in Enterprising Families Ask is now available in eBook and hardcopy. All royalties from Enabling Next Generation Legacies go towards the University of Ottawa’s Telfer Fund, helping students in need. Learn more at


2.8 It Is Difficult to Imagine That We Can Become Responsible Business Owners One Day. What Type of Development Path Can We Pursue to Learn More about Becoming Responsible Owners?

 i Richard Hockley, Isadora Pereira and Gabriele Schmidt, UBS Global Family Office Report (London: UBS AG, 2020).
ii  Rosa Nelly Trevinyo-Rodríguez and Josep Tàpies, “Effective Knowledge Transfer in Family Firms,” in Handbook of Research on Family Business, eds. Panikkos Poutziouris, Kosmas Smyrnios and Sabine B. Klein (Cheltenham: Elgar Publishing, 2006), 343-357.