Use tact to deal with errant family members
Posted Monday, September 10 2012 at 13:37
- First: Leaders of family Business must recognise that each individual child in the family is unique; none should be used as the standard for behaviour and each should be free to fully express themselves without recrimination.
- Second: Leaders of Family Business should remember that they too were once young and frivolous; that some of the indiscretions their offspring engage in pale in comparison to what leaders did (or attempted to do) in their youth.
- Third and most importantly: Leaders of Family Business, when confronted with a misdemeanour committed by a family member, should not make it seem that the one infraction comprises the entirety of the person’s character.
- Leaders should take time to reflect on the perpetrators of good traits, deeds and other areas in which they have shown commitment to the family business. Many times, this will result in the leader just letting the matter slide without comment.
What happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas; so it was discovered on August 23, 2012, when startling pictures were unleashed in the World Wide Web showing Prince Harry, third in line to the British throne, naked at a Las Vegas hotel.
The grainy photos, taken using a cell phone featured the prince with a number of unidentified individuals participating in what must have been a riotous party.
Vegas, also known as Sin City is a mecca for party goers and is considered the world headquarters of gambling. When people go to Vegas, the intention is quite, literally to let their hair down and have fun. Like everyone else, Harry and his friends were in Vegas to have a good time.
The pictures from the party scene, taken using a guests mobile phone, surfaced on the Internet following acquisition by a newspaper, reportedly for £10,000 (Sh1.36 million); an unsurprising turn of events given the questionable morals of the invitees.
While there was public outcry in England following this expose, the royal reaction has been laconic with the only correspondence being made to the Press Complaints Commission, requiring newspapers in the UK to desist from printing the photos.
Why would the Queen’s reaction (or lack of it) to this incident be of interest to Leaders of Family Business? What can be learned from the House of Windsor in the matter of bringing up privileged children and in dealing with embarrassing incidents? The first is that all children are different; that even one among two children can end up as a black sheep.
Harry, like many children in families, is very different from his more responsible, contained brother William. Parents should not compare children among themselves, using one as the standard against another.
Second is that matters should be put in perspective. What Harry did in the privacy of his room, while lewd on his part and embarrassing for the royals, was neither illegal nor dangerous — assuming he did not indulge in unprotected coitus.
What his father Charles did, on the other hand, by openly engaging in an extramarital affair with Brigadier Parker Bowles’ wife could, in any other part of the world, be considered suicidal. In comparison, Harry’s disrobing is a minor indiscretion.
Third and most important, leaders should remember that grown up children can and should take responsibility for their actions. Prince Harry is a competent Apache helicopter pilot and is extremely dedicated to his career as an officer in the British Army.
While he has an obligation to maintain a certain sense of decorum while in public, he also has a right to privacy and to freely express himself as a young man. Demanding repeated self-flagellation in the way of feeble public apologies from him is unproductive.
What is the Leader of Family Business to learn from the Queen (literally) of Family Business? What lessons can they apply from this incident as they manage their own offspring?
First, Leaders of family Business must recognise that each individual child in the family is unique; none should be used as the standard for behaviour and each should be free to fully express themselves without recrimination.
Second, is that Leaders of Family Business should remember that they too were once young and frivolous; that some of the indiscretions their offspring engage in pale in comparison to what leaders did (or attempted to do) in their youth.
They should also recognise that young people today live in a fishbowl in which all their actions are, potentially, available for live broadcast to the whole world to see, a context that is impossible for older people to imagine living in.