Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 1st 2013 Contents AUGUST 2013 • WEEK ONE www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COMMENTARY | BG23
Atrio of stories of international
human interest has captured
the imagination of the global
media over the past few
weeks and set me reflecting
on their relevance to family
Some may consider the illness of a former
South African President; the abdication of a
King in Belgium; and the birth of the Prince
of Cambridge in London as separate, discrete
events and all totally unrelated to family busi-
ness issues. Yet, these events, sad and joyous
alike, provide many messages for family busi-
ness owners and their descendants.
Through no fault of his own, Nelson Man-
dela in his autobiography reflects that "to be
the father of a nation is a great honour, but
to be the father of a family is a great joy ...
but, it is a joy I had far too little of."
In his later years, the actions of his surviving
children and grandchildren have certainly
yielded little reason for celebration.
Mandela managed to create what the New
York Times described as "relatively modest"
financial wealth, which he set up in a trust
meant to benefit future generations. Yet even
before he dies, there is a fight over how to
distribute the proceeds of the trust. It is a
legal battle that pits two of his daughters
against the fund s trustees, even after Mandela
had made his wishes known.
And, then, there is the unseemly spectacle
of the double exhumation of the bodies of his
three deceased children in an effort to influence
where he will be buried. That will be a site
to which moneyed tourists will certainly flock.
This argument between one of Mandela s
grandsons and the rest of the family was also
played out in courts.
All of this while Mandela, at the time of
writing this article, remains on life support
in a South African hospital. Some medical
experts contend that his life is being sustained
artificially but, alas, he has no living will and
with such a divided and fractious family, how
could any decision be made?
At least one that is not likely to result in
yet another court fight.
As the world honours this great freedom
fighter and generous harbinger of reconciliation
and peace, how is it that his own family has
succumbed to in-fighting and what they pub-
licly protest is not greed? One wonders by
what other name is that rose, or is it thorn
in this case, to be called? Would that goodness
and humility be transmitted genetically!
Mandela was not available to his children
and grandchildren for most of their formative
years. One wonders if he had the chance to
spend quality and prolonged time with them
if, perhaps, we would have been spared the
ugliness of these scenes.
Yet there are family businesses where similar
nastiness occurs in the presence of the founding
father. It takes emotional effort, long-term
planning, open communication and loving
good will to forestall similar catastrophes in
A PRINCE IS BORN
Over 5,000 miles away, the circle of life is
manifest as a future leader is born, not long
after the British amended the rules to allow
any female first-born to ascend the throne.
With the birth of Prince George that amend-
ment may not be implemented for, what,
another 125 years. Certainly, there are few of
us living now who will see him ascend the
throne, given the apparently genetic longevity
of the House of Windsor.
The Queen Mother died at 101 and Queen
Elizabeth is still in the seat at 87 and yet to
allow Charles, 67, his turn at the throne. She
is close to becoming the longest-serving British
monarch and Charles has already surpassed
the longest wait for an heir apparent. Appar-
ently Charles is not favoured by all of his sub-
jects and some hope he will abdicate in favour
of his more popular and very modern first-
born son, Prince William. So now we have
three princes in waiting, albeit at different
rungs on the succession ladder.
ROLE OF PRIMOGENITURE
At least, there will be no fighting over who
will inherit the title. This is strictly pre-deter-
mined by primogeniture, leaving Harry free
to pursue his own career. Prince Phillip appar-
ently refers to the royal family as "The Firm"
but truth be told, they are a monopoly with
guaranteed income; far from the reality of any
family business I know. Thankfully, family
businesses are increasingly eschewing the con-
cept of inherited leadership by the first son
or child, now, of the first child.
Some may find that notion clean, simple
and obvious so as to forestall any family in-
fighting; at least, that is the hope and intent.
Simple, though, can easily degenerate into
Often, too many first born children do not
have the skills or even desire to lead the family
business. The royal families invest heavily in
the preparation of the first-born to ascend
the throne and, even so, the success rate is
Family businesses do better when they pre-
pare all family members for possible roles in
the business, as owner/managers or just own-
ers. And selection of the leader should be
made on the basis of business need, along
with successor talent and willingness.
And family businesses could well look to
the recent abdications in Europe for another
path to succession. Queen Beatrix, 75, of the
Netherlands and King Albert II, 79, of Belgium
both recently announced abdication to allow
their respective sons, Willem-Alexander, 46,
and Phillipe, 53, to ascend the throne. Regular
readers will surmise that I view these succes-
sions as coming a bit late. I am heartened,
though, by the actions of these monarchs to
make way while the next generation has some
working years ahead of them. Now there s
an example royally worthy of emulation!
Dr Annette Rahael is a family business
and the Royal Princes
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