Education beyond formal training – lessons from families in business

Picture of John Broons
John Broons

John Broons is a globally awarded family business expert. One of only three people in Australia to hold the coveted title of Fellow of Family Firm Institute (Boston, USA), John has dedicated his working career to answering the question: how do I guide and support families in business to a place where they’re thriving?

While formal education provides a solid foundation, the lived experiences and collective wisdom of families in business offer some of life’s most profound and transformative lessons. This article explores how working in a family business can provide valuable insights for both business and life.

Father and son working together in their family business
The power of resilience

In the school of life, families in business have mastered the art of resilience. They have weathered storms, navigated uncertain times, and bounced back from setbacks with unwavering determination. Education beyond formal training reveals that resilience is not only a skill, but a mindset that allows us to confront challenges head-on, adapt, and emerge stronger than ever before. Families in business teach us that setbacks are not failures, but rather stepping stones on the path to growth and success.

The importance of emotional intelligence

While formal education focuses primarily on technical skills, families in business understand the undeniable power of emotional intelligence. They recognise that emotions drive decisions, shape relationships, and impact the overall well-being of their businesses. Lessons learnt working in a family business teach us to cultivate empathy, active listening, and effective communication – key ingredients in building and sustaining harmonious family dynamics and nurturing strong relationships with employees, customers, and stakeholders.

The wisdom of patience and long-term vision

In a world that often glorifies instant gratification and short-term gains, families in business offer a valuable lesson in patience and long-term vision. Education gained from working in the family business teaches us to shift our focus from quick wins to sustainable success. It is a reminder to be mindful of the legacy we are building, the impact we have on our communities, and the responsibility we carry towards future generations. Families in business show us that enduring success is rooted in the ability to balance immediate needs with a long-term strategic outlook.

The value of authentic leadership

Family businesses embody a unique form of leadership – one that draws strength from authenticity and purpose. Genuine leadership is not merely about titles or positions; it is about cultivating trust, fostering meaningful connections, and leading by example. Families in business demonstrate the power of embodying values, celebrating diversity, and embracing individual strengths, thus creating a culture that inspires and empowers their teams.

The joy of continual learning

Education is a lifelong journey that embraces the joy of continual learning and growth. Families in business exemplify the thirst for knowledge, innovation, and improvement. They understand that learning does not end with a degree, but is a perpetual process of discovery. By immersing ourselves in industry networks, attending conferences, seeking mentorship, and embracing new experiences, we expand our horizons and remain at the forefront of our industries.

Unlocking a world of endless education

Formal education is undoubtedly important, but the lessons gleaned from families in business offer a unique dimension to our educational journey. By learning from the older generation in the family business, we unlock a world of endless education – one that encompasses resilience, emotional intelligence, long-term vision, authentic leadership, and perpetual learning.

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