Ruling vs. Governing; On the dialects of governance, Family Business Magazine
In the late 1960s, John Petersen (a pseudonym) and his brothers inherited a modest pharmaceutical business from their father. Today, it is a multibillion-dollar global company, in great measure thanks to John's relentless entrepreneurial drive. Now with 15 adult cousins in the third generation, the Petersen family has built an elaborate governance structure that includes an independent board of directors, shareholder and family assemblies, a family council, a family office and a philanthropic foundation. While John retains his undisputed leadership as the head of the family enterprise, the brothers, the cousins and their spouses all participate actively in the governance structure, which has empowered the family to make choices that at times challenge John's priorities and wishes. Yet he also understands that when he exerts his influence arbitrarily, he perpetuates a reliance on him that may well compromise the maturation of the governance process and ultimately the continuity of the enterprise. As he put it succinctly in a recent conversation, "When should I rule and when should I govern?”
Lansberg, Ivan. 2009. Ruling vs. Governing; On the dialects of governance. Family Business Magazine.