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Davis ThinkingDavis Thinking } analysis and interpretation

From the Crib to the Corner Office

Kristen M. Jamski
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
For a friend of mine, the throne of the family business is in sight. While I am elated for her, I wonder how the company’s stakeholders perceive her? How must she brand herself to gain their trust?

I was amazed to read that family businesses comprise 35% of Fortune 500 companies, account for 50% of U.S. gross domestic product, generate 60% of the country's employment and 78% of all new job creation.

Judging by these statistics, my friend is far from being alone in her pursuits. Similar to Brian Roberts , CEO of Comcast, my friend has been immersed in the family business from a very young age. She has often said that she doesn’t know where the family ends and where the company begins. Much like Mr. Roberts, she has gotten her hands dirty at various company plants, has interacted with customers, small and large, and has worked side-by-side with company leadership.

But, the questions remain…Can she gain the trust of stakeholders as the company’s next leader? How must she manage her own personal brand then and now in order to exude competence and trustworthiness?

Stakeholders constantly examine leaders’ intellectual, physical and emotional capacity. In my opinion, as she prepares for succession, she must continually build and foster relationships with stakeholders large and small. By taking the time to build these relationships, she and others like her have an inherent advantage over leaders that are brought in from other companies.

After all, if this approach worked for Tommy Callahan , it can work for anyone.

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