One of the common unspoken tensions in a family business is the reality that different owners — and future owners — don’t all want to be involved in the same way. But too often those desires and expectations are not discussed or normalized. The author outlines five different types of family business owners, whose involvement ranges from passive to operational. He also shares a process to help families discuss their desired roles and evolve the business governance accordingly.

Sienna Amouri*, the 72-year-old chairwoman and founder of a high-end cosmetics enterprise, was distraught. A true owner-operator in the classic sense, familiar with all day-to-day details of her far-reaching business empire, Sienna had just watched her eldest sons Remo and Robert storm out of the monthly half-day business meeting in tears. Simultaneously shell-shocked, angry, and trying to console her mother was their sister, Quinn, the current CEO. How did their previously close-knit family come to this point, she wondered.

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