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The Welsh Wire: Assimilating Non-Family Executives in the Family Business featuring Robert Stead, Michigan Managing Partner of Barnes & Thornburg LLP, Grand Rapids, MI

Sometimes, family-owned businesses find in their succession planning that family members lack the interest or passion to carry on the business operations. In a recent interview by Sheri Welsh of The Welsh Wire podcast, Robert Stead, Michigan Managing Partner for Barnes & Thornburg of Grand Rapids, says, “We have a couple of choices, either we can sell this business and turn it over to somebody else, or we can find the next person to lead the organization and take it forward.”


Stead tells Sheri that the family has to consider if they are willing and prepared to bring an outsider in to run their organization. He analogizes, “If you come in as a football coach for a professional football team, you really want to have control over personnel and policy and what type of organization you’re going to have. He continues with, “If you have a coach that comes in, but there’s a general manager above them (in this case, the general manager really might be the family) who’s not committed nor gives the coach authority to make decisions with the players, then I think it’s a real challenge for that outsider to come in and be successful.”


Other considerations include deciding if the family is aligned with the outsider’s priorities. Will the family support the new leader’s initiatives and priorities, and will the new leader have flexibility to establish compensation and incentive programs for the organization?


Learn more as Robert Stead talks with Sheri Welsh on this week’s The Welsh Wire podcast, sponsored by the Family Business Alliance. Subscribe to The Welsh Wire on iTunes for additional informative, entertaining interviews with West Michigan business leaders.