There are many idiomatic expressions which openly declare a priority for leadership. “One cannot serve two masters” and “too many cooks spoil the broth” are just two such declarations of a need for clear and unified leadership? But is this true in the business world? The most successful companies have CEOs who are accountable to an oversight board, regulatory boards and a board of directors. Most law firms act as partnerships in which there are many member partners necessitating that almost all decisions be presented before a community, put up to vote and left to sink or swim on their own merits. Is it harder to get things done when you must seek the will and utilize the group decision-making metrics? Absolutely. But as you so astutely notice, a central authority figure in business can be problematic as well, especially in a family business where others might have a stake in gains or losses (Hartman, & DesJardins, 2008a; Hartman, & DesJardins, 2008b).
Moreover, I agree with your point that strategic decisions be left to leadership and that ideation and new direction be very controlled to minimize risks associated with failure. However, I’ve found that it is also risky to rely on one key player to make most of the major moves, especially if he or she does not have a “wing person” to pick up the slack in a time of need (Loehr, & Scwartz. 2008).
Additionally, a company centered on the executive moves and decisions of one person is in a very vulnerable position should that individual no longer be available. A management team that works together or a board of directors can share notes and decisions and bring a wealth of new opportunities and ideas to the company. In essence, a diversity of knowledge and skills is favorable and this diversity can be had with the help of a consulting firm if a solid strategic position is made a priority, often with the aid of a balanced scorecard management tool (Loehr, & Scwartz. 2008).
Another priority is the retention of new and long term hires. A big part of a retention strategy requires the training and development of new and existing staff. Even though this is a family business, retention might be a problem, particularly if a young and up and coming family member felt that his or her interests where not being factored in and if he then went on to assume that he might do better back at school or, worse, in a competitor’s backyard.
The economy is tricky and markets are more volatile than they were 10 years ago. The changing requirements of businesses mandate major changes in operational strategy and workflow, even in successful family-owned businesses, particularly those in healthcare that are subject to the same scrutiny and review as many other more large companies.
Hartman, L. P., & DesJardins, J. (2008a). Ethical decision making: Personal and professional contexts. In Leadership: Ethics and leadership anthology (pp. 62-89). New York, NY: McGraw Hill Primis.
Hartman, L. P., & DesJardins, J. (2008b). Philosophical ethics and business. In Leadership: Ethics and leadership anthology (pp. 90-136). New York, NY: McGraw Hill Primis.
Loehr, J., & Scwartz, T. (2008). The making of a corporate athlete. In Leadership: Ethics and leadership anthology (pp. 190-201). New York, NY: McGraw Hill Primis.