Causes of conflict: Arresting the red flags

WE all know that unhealthy family conflict can wreak havoc in the family and the business. At its worst, it can break both the family and the business apart.

We also acknowledge that there are always challenges and that failure to address the conflict can lead to troubled days, uneasy and sleepless nights, uncertainty in terms of the future direction of the business, traumatic effect on the next generation and the thought that at any time a confrontation amongst siblings can lead to physical violence and irreversible financial losses.

These factors are causing Rey so much stress and insecurity. Inevitably, this will affect his family and the people surrounding him. As a family business coach, I can tell you, family conflict is not just unwarranted, unnecessary, and a waste of energy but extremely debilitating.

The stress can take its toll on one’s health and it just consumes and deprives you of your right to enjoy a meaningful life.

My role is to resolve conflict, mitigate the damage that has been done, educate the undisciplined and entitled family members and encourage leaders to make the sometimes difficult transition from a family-first to a business-first model so they can all reframe their resources towards growth and legacy building.

A reflection of family members in a dilemma

Rey’s predicament is quite too common but extremely challenging and difficult to untangle. This problem should never be ignored and is not simply a matter of sweeping it under the rug. The problem will continue and persist and at some point, will escalate into a conflict amongst siblings, their spouses and children.

But for Rey, he has reached a point where he has to make a choice–to fight or take flight. And he knows that any of the two options have serious consequences.

There are options in resolving this impasse. But Rey has to fundamentally address two conflict situations first.

The first part is dealing with the unfocused siblings who all have shown no commitment and passion in helping the family business grow. To further complicate the process, the three siblings set up businesses of their own so their time is divided. This lackadaisical attitude appears to be deliberate and therefore must be addressed. This is where a family business advisor must step in and seek to resolve these pressing issues:

a. Why have these three siblings not been supportive of Rey?

b. Are their actions deliberate? Collective?

c. Are they sending a strong message that they disliked Rey’s management style?

d. Why have they continued to remain uncooperative?

e. Are these actions their way of protesting Rey’s brand of leadership?

f. Was there a trigger event in the past?

g. Did the siblings behave this way before the patriarch passed away?

h. Why is Raymond supportive of Rey? Is there a tacit alliance between the two?

The other part is in convincing Rey’s mother that having equal ownership is not fair and potentially has a far reaching impact on family relationships and the future of the business.

To be continued.


Prof. Soriano is an ASEAN family business advisor, book author and executive director of ASEAN-based consulting group, W+B Strategic Advisory. He is also an international business lecturer and professor at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business.
He is slated to deliver a talk to family business owners in Cebu on Feb. 18. The series of talks are part of W+B Cebu’s advocacy campaign related to family and business governance for SME’s. Those interested to reserve a slot should call the W+B Group 09228603186 and look for Ms. Jen. Registration is a requirement.



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