Women in Family Business Leadership Roles

Women in Family Business Leadership Roles

Daughters on the Stage

Mary Barrett and Ken Moores

Mary Barrett and Ken Moores breathe new life into research on one of the largest and yet frequently overlooked business sectors. They analyse thirteen international cases of women in family business to discover how women attained leadership or, sometimes, failed to do so. By examining in detail how women have reached the top in the traditionally conservative environment of family business, the book avoids essentialist assumptions about women as leaders. It illuminates classic issues of entrepreneurship in a family business context, particularly the dual imperatives of innovation and business continuity. Women in Family Business Leadership Roles presents contemporary research that looks at the patterns of success and failure, and understand whether this is the result of gender or other factors.

Chapter 7: Coping with Shadows

Mary Barrett and Ken Moores

Subjects: business and management, diversity and management, entrepreneurship, family business


The leadership journeys considered so far show how women in family business learn to manage the spotlight of leadership. Some interviewees were thrust into the leadership spotlight and learned to deal with its glare. Others, blocked from entering an original family business, established their own firm with its own spotlight. Still other participants took a more subtle approach to leadership, deliberately pointing the leadership spotlight away from themselves onto someone else. This chapter considers Ingrid and Robyn, whose journeys towards leadership we are less complete than those of our other interviewees. In Ingrid’s case in particular, shadows cast by others, especially her father, still hampered her capacity to move to centre stage. We met Robyn before, as the daughter of Deborah, whose story we encounter in Chapter 5. INGRID Ingrid is the second-generation CEO of a large agricultural machinery and real estate business in the United States. Despite her title, when we interviewed her we detected a certain fragility about her role, which led us to wonder if she was still on trial as leader. Her journey to her current position took many years, with frequent exits and re-entries to the family business. There was a period of over seven years between her final re-entry to the family firm for good, and her move to the top job. Like many family business leaders, Ingrid recalled spending time on the business premises as a child. Like so many interviewees who became interested in some aspect of the family firm as children,...

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