On the referral of a colleague, I interviewed the Nashville-based, LEONORA WILLIAMSON. She is an expert in family business dynamics, corporate citizenship and executive coaching and she has unique insights into the world of family business succession. Aside from advising families on the myriad issues, she has lived them herself with her family’s own business.

She is the founder of PLATINUM RULE ADVISORS and a Lecturer at Vanderbilt University on the topics of Negotiation and Corporate Social Responsibility for their undergraduate business program. She is also a board member of Sabre Yachts and has uniques insights into the running and transition of this family business.

This was another episode where we scratched the surface of the issues we have seen and the lessons to be learned. I’ll have to have her on again!


What were some of the lessons you took from this when forming Platinum Rule?

Getting the “Human” part of Human Resources right

Using assessments and analytics to get a hold of the full family picture

The Three Big Parts of the Venn Diagram

Frameworks for getting one’s arms around a big and complicated situation

The Business – Is it healthy? Where is it Going?

The Governance – How are decisions made in terms of ownership and operation? Who is in charge of strategy and who implements that strategy?

The Family – How are decisions made at the family level? How does this intersect with the business?

Intersection of “Family Wealth” and “Executive Coaching”

In family enterprises, the “Human” component can be complicated by family dynamics. What issues do families need to be aware of ? Are there warning signs?

How do you counsel families and businesses on information asymmetry (need to know vs want to know) when transparency is a goal, but some won’t have the tools/discretion to deal with the important information?

What happens when wealth and ownership structure doesn’t interact well with operational structure? 

Developing Human Capital

How do you help executives that work in family organizations deal with change when it’s clear that there is a personality clash or obvious performance problem?

What happens if geography limits the talent pool?

What if you have a leader that has the “raw material”, but is new to being an executive or comes with a different leadership style? 

Human Capital Trends?

How do family businesses think about the important benefits of diversity and inclusion?

Where do you think “Work From Home” fits in?

Are relationships even more important in this landscape- how do you foster them in this new world? 

How do you identify / develop talent via zoom?

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