Families like to keep trades within the family. This can be seen from the families of farmers, butchers, tradesmen and so on that have been able to pass their business down the generations – usually to the eldest son, or the one who took an interest or passion in the trade in their childhood.

This practice is lauded and evokes a warm sense of old fashioned nostalgia which harks back to the old days when Britain was merely a collection of villages with various cottage-industries dotted around the hamlets.

But today, as children and importantly; teens are exposed to so much information – the attempts of parents to persuade them to stay in the family business are much more futile. The natural rebelliousness of teenagers causes them to veer away from the advice their parents give them – in the search to carve out their own life.

This question becomes even obscurer when we think of leadership as being a business. Do leaders tend to pass on the ‘leadership business’ to their children?

Business leaders would be able to give their child a massive advantage in climbing the corporate ladder should they so wish. And so in this respect, leaders ‘can’ pass on the family business.

But this is all beside the point of whether it is actually right to persuade a child to stay in the family business. Should this be done at all?

Well there are several arguments for and against. For is that it is actually economically efficient to do so. Imagine the amount of capital and spending required to train a new novice in becoming a skilled butcher. However compare that to if a father has been showing his child how to do it all throughout their teenhood. At the end of their education, you would have a ready-trained butcher already. And for this reason, it makes good business sense to keep the family trade.

With leadership however, the comparison is difficult to make. Leaders aren’t simply taught by their parents – leadership skills, unlike the knife skills of a butcher, can’t be conveyed and explained over a year or two of an apprenticeship. Indeed one could question what is this good leadership? They must be learnt over time. For this reason, I don’t think leaders should feel inclined to try and make their children follow their career path.

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