Tapping into the power of YOUR human capital

“Human potential is the same for all. Your feeling, ‘I am of no value,’ is wrong. Absolutely wrong…We all have the power of thought.”

– Dalai Lama

Virtually every person in a business or a family – or a business family – has a talent that can improve the lives of the people around them. It may be a technical expertise, a savvy sales skill or the ability to ask a tough question when needed. Having that variety of voices at a table can make us all richer in business and in life.

What is the equation that draws out the best in each person? Now that is a secret that will help you succeed.

There is a delicate balance between tapping into the human capital of each individual and leveraging their intellectual capital. When I write ‘human capital,’ I mean the well-being of that person in their life; meanwhile, intellectual capital is the knowhow and knowledge they bring to the table. If that knowledge is acknowledged and valued, it makes each player feel like they are contributing to the team. That is fabulous fodder for their well-being.

If that balance is not achieved, then more power goes to certain voices and shuts out ideas and critiques that could make all the difference between thriving and merely surviving.

Typically, founders and those who build a family business further have their ‘capital’ respected and heard. By creating a culture where new ideas and voices are welcome, they increase the chances that the next generation will follow the path of success – even if they choose a different route.

For those in a second, third or fourth generation, parental disapproval doesn’t have to be voiced to have a negative effect on our self-worth. It only has to be perceived. All it takes is a few instances of declining new approaches or shutting down a discussion that differs from ‘how things have always been done.’

I was well into adulthood before I could see the power of my human capital. I had earned a Bachelor of Commerce and a graduate degree in Institutional Administration from Concordia University, then completed wealth management courses at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and The John Molson School of Business in Montreal. I have earned six different coaching and psychology designations, including family enterprise advising.

Yet, when I offered advice to my father during a family meeting in 2016, I was clearly told my opinion did not matter. While that hurt deeply, since that time I have been through a process of assessing how I see and talk to myself to reinforce my self-image. As a result, I now see how much I have to offer others due to my life experience and training.

Perhaps you’re like me and have never thought of yourself as a leader in the conventional sense. This is typical for those of us who come from successful entrepreneurial families led by strong, charismatic over-achievers. We tend to think of leadership as something the patriarch does while we play on the sidelines or behind the scenes, as team members but never the captain. I am still my own leader within: strong in my values and my thoughts, leading through action without taking centre stage.

The most effective kind of leadership is a continuous act of generosity. It is about:

  • Being a mentor, a teacher, a cheerleader. After all, the team needs a variety of players.
  • Helping people feel good about themselves. Inspiring them with their greatness, not my own.
  • Encouraging them to reach higher and achieve more than they ever dreamed possible.
  • Persevering alongside them, especially when the going gets tough.
  • Coaching rather than criticizing.
  • Seeing roadblocks as opportunities for growth and learning, and getting those around you to see it, too.
  • Championing collaboration and cooperation.

To do this, you use your capital in a different way and still contribute to the team’s success. Over time, you earn the respect that fuels you to keep growing and learning.

Your greatness is in there, trust me. No patriarch handed it to you on a silver platter and no one—no matter how commanding or accomplished or charismatic they may be—has the power to take it away from you unless you decide to give it to them. It belongs to you and you alone.

If you need help navigating your family’s dynamics, start by asking yourself quality questions and prepare to be inspired by the answers you find within. Having been there, I can guide you along the way. Let’s explore this together so your family can benefit from your expertise, starting today.

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