Succession, in actual life: how household companies keep away from backstabbing tensions | Succession

Roger and Andrew Barlee.

Don and Lewis Ledingham, a father and son from Edinburgh and London, are “big, completely addicted” followers of the TV programme Succession, the ultimate episode of which is able to display screen this weekend. Which isn’t to say they take many classes from Logan Roy and his cut-throat clan for the working of their very own household agency – a management improvement consultancy, appropriately.

“In our enterprise, we speak in regards to the stability between heat and edge,” says Don, 65. “As a pacesetter, Logan predominantly lives on the planet of edge – which is simply the concentrate on success – however has little or no heat, which is that compassion, empathy and appreciation of others.”

Enterprise leaders ought to have the humility to recognise that they “know nothing”, he says, which can be why, earlier this 12 months, Ledingham Sr provided his 32-year-old son the place of co-CEO of the company.

Stepping again is usually a problem for any enterprise chief, he says, as a result of having your individual agency is “nice enjoyable”. “However undoubtedly, this will probably be a part of our succession technique. This isn’t a long-term place, however we’re discovering it an excellent bridge from me being [sole] chief govt to the longer term the place he takes it on.”

Handing over the household agency doesn’t need to be accomplished the Roy manner, which isn’t to say there isn’t potential for dynastic tensions because the youthful era supplants the older. Rufus Sanders was a disaffected language instructor when his father advised him he deliberate to promote the specialist footwear store he had based near Piccadilly Circus in London.

As a youthful man, Sanders, now 49, says he had “all the time held [the family business] at arm’s size, not eager to be related to it. Nevertheless it occurred on the proper time. I used to be trying to get out of educating and this chance got here up.”

He was aware of the potential for familial head-butting, nevertheless, if he and his father, Michael, labored collectively.

“So I mainly put it on the road: ‘Look, I’ll be part of if you happen to depart.’”

How did that go down? “He was shocked by it, however he might see the sense of it.” It took “a couple of weekend” for his father to come back spherical to the thought, he says; quickly afterwards they launched into an 18-month handover interval.

After that, says Sanders, “he was very very similar to – properly, it’s your factor now. It’s your downside. That was nice, as a result of that was precisely what I signed up for.” The enterprise has since closed, they usually stay a loving household, he says – readability over the transition serving to to maintain it that manner.

For some households, succession has a for much longer historical past. Andrew Barlee, 24, will turn out to be the seventh era to take over the working of his household’s leather-based tanning enterprise exterior Edinburgh, as soon as his father, Roger, the sixth, ultimately opts to retire.

Roger and Andrew Barlee.
Roger and Andrew Barlee. {Photograph}: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

Administration of the agency has an unbroken line again to the shoemaker Thomas Hewit in 1823, however there are maybe shocking hints of non-public ambition within the archives. After Thomas died, his second spouse, Janet, took over the enterprise and renamed it J Hewit and Sons – the identify it retains right this moment.

“My dad by no means actually pushed any of us to do it,” says Andrew Barlee, given a number of ancestors had been pressured to enter the enterprise as an alternative of pursuing their very own ambitions.

“However I did very very similar to chemistry at college [the business relies heavily on chemical processes], and I actually preferred coming into work and serving to out.”

The truth that the enterprise, which specialises in leather-based for bookbinding and bagpipes, is 200 years outdated this 12 months is “actually, actually cool”, he says. “It’s not that I felt I had to enter it, extra that I needed to be part of it.”

Roger Barlee says he’s decided handy over the reins with out a battle when the time comes. His personal father needed to wrestle to be given autonomy when he inherited the enterprise, he says, “so when he reached retirement age, he left and stated: ‘If you need me to come back in, you invite me.’

“I’ll in all probability comply with swimsuit, slowly letting Andrew take extra accountability. And sooner or later, I’ll simply say, proper, I’ve accomplished my bit.”