3 Behaviors that Family and Senior Leaders Should Embrace

For many years as a Marriage & Family Therapist, I worked with couples and families to strengthen relationships and work through hard times. In the first session, I emphasized the courage to ask for help and recognized it as a healthy behavior. After all, challenges are part of life and an outside perspective helps us see things we normally wouldn’t. Time and again I saw the look of relief replace the look of embarrassment.

Asking for help is a sign of strength and health

Asking for help is a big deal because without an outside perspective, dysfunction grows. When a system is closed, it gets disorganized and loses energy. Even if a family looks good on the outside, if it is not open to new learning, unhealthy patterns will destroy communication, innovation, and growth.

What do families and organizations have in common?

Organizations function a lot like families, even more so in family-owned businesses. The same unhealthy patterns around conflict, communication, and responsibility in family relationships occur in organization relationships; especially the disregard for how people treat one another or overcome conflict/challenges.

3 Behaviors that Family and Senior Leaders Should Embrace

The couples and families I worked with learned that asking for help is a family behavior of strength and health. Exposing their vulnerabilities became more important than appearing to have it all together.

  1. Create a safe environment – This builds trust and promotes honest conversation about the conflict/issue at hand.
  1. Be comfortable with conflict – Address problem behaviors early to prevent bigger problems. Being comfortable with conflict is a skill that can be learned. Leaders in families and organizations address the issue, not the person, by combining directness with honesty.
  1. Invite input from others – Answers to challenges come when the leader is humble to receive input from others. In Liz Wiseman’s book The Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, she talks about working with business-leader-behaviors-resultssenior leaders who defined a challenge and invited their teams’ ideas and innovation to solve it. This ignited the teams’ skills and creativity and improved problem solving. The same dynamic happens in families when the leaders admit they don’t have all the answers and ask for input. It reveals what leaders sometimes can’t or won’t see.


Whether you are a leader of a family or an organization, the most effective leaders create a culture of behaviors that optimize both relationships and results. Healthy family and senior leaders ask for help when the family or organization hits a rough patch. And that IS a sign of strength

We help companies who want to build a culture that strengthens organizational health. Share your thoughts and comments about the similarities between family leaders and seniors and how it affects healthy culture at home and at work.

If you’d like to learn more about a roadmap to organizational health through culture, give us a buzz or shoot us an email. We’d be glad to help.  

Bonnie Artman Fox is a Work Culture Consultant, Leadership Turnaround Coach, and Professional Speaker. She works with senior leaders to strengthen organizational health through work cultures that optimize performance, productivity, and results. She brings over 25 years of expertise as a psychiatric nurse and marriage & family therapist to help organizations build work cultures where people function at their best. To learn more or bring Bonnie to your company, visit www.bonnieartmanfox.com.