The Daughter Also Rises

Smart Moves

What, then, do family business advisors think daughters should consider so they can pave their way smoothly into positions of leadership in their families' businesses?

As soon as you're interested in getting involved in your family's business, express it. But don't necessarily go to work in the family business right after college. This advice is important for all children, but daughters especially should gain experience, credibility and a reputation outside the confines of the family.

Learn from the senior generation, but not out of the corner of your eye. Talk to your parents directly about what the business means to them and how its meaning has changed over time.

Be sensitive to your parent. That doesn't mean being the doting daughter or dependent on dad.

Even if you're not in the family business yet, ask questions, voice opinions and get involved. Perhaps you could sit on an advisory board or head up the family's philanthropic efforts.

Meet with other women who have leadership positions in their families' businesses. Get their insights into the issues you face. If you're a mother, talk with women who think of motherhood as a relationship, responsibility and joy rather than an all-encompassing identity or career.

Wherever possible, embrace and institute new business practices and policies that enable and encourage women in your company (yourself included) to combine the best of their personal and business worlds. One such policy is a flexible work schedule.

Define for yourself what contribution you think you can and want to make to the family business.

Develop a compelling vision for your company's future as well as the ability to convey that vision to others.

More women (daughters) are moving into leadership positions in their families' businesses, but it still isn't the norm. That's why making a conscious effort to prepare yourself and others for your ascension is so important.

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This article was originally published in the March 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: The Daughter Also Rises.

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