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Affluent Christian Investor | September 19, 2017

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A Business Isn’t a Family

You’ll hear people say “This is our family!” about a work organization.


Families are a necessary and wonderful part of our human social structure.

They are ideally about unconditional love and acceptance.  (Yes, I know every family has some level of dysfunction.)

Work organizations need to be like professional sports teams: Perform at a necessary level, or you’re out.  Winning is an objective. There is always some competition for your spot in the roster.  Success metrics matter; fail to hit them and there are consequences beyond what a family member would say.  (“It’s ok, you’ll always be my daughter, and I will always love

you.”)  Deep comradery and affection are the side-benefit of struggling and winning together, rather than the basis for connection.

I believe working organizations are a key part of the social structure, alongside of families, but don’t confuse the two.  Don’t try to lead a work organization like a family.

There is a kind of safety in confusion.  It’s a fog of situations, so who could be expected to see clearly?  You have a wheelbarrow full of excuses and rationalizations.  Your hesitation to act is understandable.  You can find many sympathizers who are also overwhelmed and struggling.  Chances are good you won’t be singled out for blame when something doesn’t work right, or a project is not delivered.

Leadership reminder: Confusing situations do not take away our power (and

obligation) to think, decide, and communicate.

Not long ago I left my razor at home and asked the hotel for a disposable razor.  They gave me a cheapo razor from a drawer.

For two days I really struggled.  The razor wouldn’t cut!  It felt like I was tearing out hairs. My neck was red and raw from the abrasion.

On the third morning it occurred to me to examine the razor more closely.

The blade was installed backward in the plastic handle.  Defective manufacturing.  I was shaving with the blunt side.

At some point I’m sure this is going to be a relevant metaphor, but my initial lesson is look at the blasted razor and see if something is wrong with it!

Until next time, keep working on your craft, Glenn.


Courtesy of LeadershipCraft.

Glenn Brooke delights to help people master the complex craft of leadership using the ancient principles of apprenticeship. He’s the author of Leadership Craft, A Leader Thinks Aloud, and other books. You can connect with Glenn at


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