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The Owner-Manager

Provided by the Business Families Foundation, Content Partner for SME Toolkit

The owner-manager is defined as a person who inherits or buys the family business (totally or in part). This person may or may not be a family member or may play an interim role until future generations of family members are in a position to take a leadership role.

For an owner-manager, the challenges of establishing leadership, and filling in the shoes of the former owner or the founder of the company may be tremendous. An owner-manager has to maintain the focus on sharing information as well as articulating and communicating some of the tacit knowledge and all the know-how that made the governing abilities of the former owner or founder so unique, while preparing the future generation of leaders. Therefore, while having a clear ability to lead the business(es), the owner-manager must also possess the skills to manage a change process.  

The concerns of a good owner-manager will be to revitalize the business, to be different from predecessor(s) while celebrating their unique skills and to articulate a renewed vision for the business and its assets.

The transitioning role of an owner-manager raises challenges within the family, such as: recognition from family members of the legitimacy of the owner-manager’s leadership; an ability to lead the process of developing a clear, cohesive and common vision of the future for the family business and for the role of the family in governing the business.


In summary the owner-manager must, like the owner-founder, understand that the dilemmas of sharing leadership and power versus controlling; selling versus keeping the business for future generations; choosing versus not choosing a successor or successor(s); mastering versus mentoring the next generation of leaders will need to be addressed and dealt with. This is why the ability of the owner-manager to manage the change process and implement along the way, both sound and reliable governance structures and processes, accepted and followed by all key stakeholders, is so critical to the renewal and sustainability of the family enterprise system.

Learn about other stages:

Back to the Different Types of Owners of the Family Business.

© Business Families Foundation 2016. All rights reserved.

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