Course list

Leading family businesses requires unique perspectives and strategies to help you thrive. By gaining insights into the particular challenges that family-owned businesses face, you can prepare yourself and your business for difficulties and reach your goals.

In this course, you will analyze how family, business, and ownership overlap to identify where confusion or tension may arise among these groups. You will also create a family diagram and use it to understand more about how patterns emerge across generations. You will then prepare to have a conversation with a family member about the family history to which you are not privy. Finally, you will assess what governance looks like in a family business, drafting recommendations for improvements to governance systems. By the end of the course, you will have fundamental analysis tools specific to the family-business context to support you toward success.

Family businesses are complex systems of personal and professional relationships. In this course, you will assess the emotional and habitual patterns that underwrite your familial and business relationships. Through stories and examples, you will explore the value gained from bringing emotional maturity into interpersonal relationships, both at work and at home.

You will explore the qualities and actions expressed by emotionally mature people. With this foundation, you will discuss important skills, such as recognizing the common ways that people avoid accountability, shifting your focus to become more self-responsible and having an honest conversation about a problem before jumping to judgment. You will also examine a relationship triangle from different perspectives and assess your impulse to solve problems when they are brought to you by another person. Finally, you will arrange to have a personal interview with someone in your family with whom you want to develop a deeper relationship then reflect on that experience. By the end of the course, you will better understand emotional maturity and be able to apply new strategies for success in your relationships with others.

Encouraging a shared sense of belonging can help sustain both a family business and the family itself across generations. Families can bolster these efforts by identifying and strengthening areas of shared purpose and values in particular. The more a family can operate collectively and feel like they are contributing to a shared dream, the lighter the burden of stewardship and leadership becomes, thus improving the chance to thrive together.

In this course, you will experiment with different ways of incorporating creativity, curiosity, and play into everything from everyday interactions to family council meetings and board meetings. You will consider how your personal values inspire your actions and decisions, exploring how these values can support — or undermine — family relationships and governance mechanics. You will experiment with different communication methods to find the right fit for you and your family. Using the tools you choose, you will create a personal values statement and a shared values statement with another person or group. Finally, you will develop an action plan to help your family overcome challenges and meet its goals. By the end of the course, you will have experience with strategies to support your business, helping you foster greater connectivity, belonging, and trust in your family system.

The relationship between family governance and business governance can get complicated in family businesses. The family businesses that operate at an optimal level are typically the most cohesive, enjoy a high degree of trust between members, and are not afraid to tell the truth to one another. How can you build these systems into your business?

In this course, you will be introduced to ways to optimize your family business governance. You will analyze your family's mechanisms for holding people accountable, addressing risk, and setting expectations. As you explore boundary setting, you will assess your business's process for addressing risk and boundary management. You will also design an action plan to address misalignment among family values, goals, levels of maturity, and business practices. Finally, you will identify where your board of directors, or another leadership group, could be more effective then create an action plan to move it closer to its ideal state of functioning. By the end of the course, you will have experience with a variety of strategies that will enable you to better support healthy interaction between the family and the business, ultimately setting the business up for success for generations to come.

Symposium sessions feature three days of live, highly interactive virtual Zoom sessions that will explore today’s most pressing topics. The Leadership Symposium offers you a unique opportunity to engage in real-time conversations with peers and experts from the Cornell community and beyond. Using the context of your own experiences, you will take part in reflections and small-group discussions to build on the skills and knowledge you have gained from your courses.

Join us for the next Symposium in which we’ll discuss the ways that leaders across industries have continued engaging their teams over the past two years while pivoting in strategic ways. You will support your coursework by applying your knowledge and experiences to relevant topics for leaders. Throughout this Symposium, you will examine different areas of leadership, including innovation, strategy, and engagement. By participating in relevant and engaging discussions, you will discover a variety of perspectives and build connections with your fellow participants from various industries.

Upcoming Symposium: June 11-13, 2024 from 11am – 1pm ET

All sessions are held on Zoom.

Future dates are subject to change. You may participate in as many sessions as you wish. Attending Symposium sessions is not required to successfully complete any certificate program. Once enrolled in your courses, you will receive information about upcoming events. Accessibility accommodations will be available upon request.

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