Podcast Episode 39.3

Family Business Series: Using Your Voice to Better Your Business

With Guest:
  • Mark Herringshaw of Herringshaw Group, President

Host, Jamie Duininck, hears Mark Herringshaw’s perspective on “Using Your Voice to Better Your Business.” Mark believes understanding your personality style or voice leads to better communication and conflict management. Learn about a successful family succession story and what Mark finds most rewarding about his work. 

Episode 39.3 | 10 min

Guest Bio

Mark Herringshaw is the President of Herringshaw Group. He believes in a humility-based approach to leadership and is passionate about transformation as a practitioner of the principles that he advocates. 

Mark has over 25 years of experience in leadership roles and earned his PhD in Leadership Studies from Regent University in 2001. He works with companies of all sizes to decode individual performance, team chemistry and organizational excellence to lead them to success. Mark is a parent, business coach, teacher and author of three books. 

Jamie (00:02):

This is the Water Table.

Speaker 2 (00:05):

The chance to hear the agricultural side of these issues.

Speaker 1 (00:09):

A place for people to go find information and education.

Speaker 3 (00:13):

Water management is just going to become even more critical into the future.

Speaker 1 (00:19):

How misunderstood what we do is.

Speaker 2 (00:22):

I would encourage people to open their minds and listen to this dialogue.

Jamie Duininck (00:31):
Well, welcome back to the Water Table podcast, as we continue our business series. Today, I’m really excited to have Mark Herringshaw with us.

I think people, if they’re listening, I’m hopeful that they can understand or connect the dots around: why do these voices matter? And why do the gears matter around conflict resolution and family businesses and succession?

I’m putting you on the spot here a little bit. But can you tell me about a time in your life, or a situation, where you were working with a team and where these kind of things were just really evident that they helped you get to the next level rather than stay stuck?

Mark Herringshaw (01:25):
I think there’s multiple examples. I’ll share a story, one story of family business. I won’t use names because I don’t have their immediate permission. This business, it was in South Carolina. And started by ultimately who was the father of the family that took it and developed it. Just a unique, very impactful business in their community. They were the largest employer in their midsize town.

He came to the point of starting to plan for his retirement and his succession. And there’s two kids, a daughter and a son, that were involved at that point. And they had very different voice configurations than each other, and very different than their father. And when we first entered the discussion with them the daughter had pretty much decided that she wasn’t going to be in the management side of the business. So they had worked out the financial situation of how ownership and management were going to be different in their scenario. But that was clear, she just knew it wasn’t for her. The real challenge was between the father and son. And they actually had a good relationship, but they just didn’t understand how each other process things.

So it was so much so that the son had pretty much decided he was going to leave the industry and not work in the family business. And so we came in to really try to bring some clarity on the voice side, or using that as a tool to bring clarity between the two of them. And did some pretty in-depth extended work, just really sitting with both of them individually to do life mapping, work with them, and getting down to key values. We asked the question: what is your preferred future? What is it that you really want?

And you had, in this case, the father who was a pioneer. Not surprising. Very visionary, very innovative. When he was starting out, to invent essentially a whole process that he did to start this business, took a tremendous amount of creativity and tenacity. And [inaudible 00:04:11] paid the price for all that with the long hours that he had to … early, when things start, it’s often like that.

And his son was very relational, so he was a connector in the voice configuration. So you had, for him, the highest value was: are we doing this as a team? And is everybody feeling like we’re belonging? And that can feel like just a completely different approach than the way the pioneer sees it. He defines success differently.

And once he began to realize that the business could be a platform for him really creating a sense of team comradery, that’s really the thing that drove him more than anything else, to realize that their 400 employee could feel like they really belonged. And when he saw that that was a reason to be in business, that to be successful gave them an opportunity to serve the families of 400 people, for him he could see a different reason for doing it. And ultimately, then he made the decision to come in. They had a very positive transition to his leadership. And the company has grown considerably since he took it about five years ago.

But the conflict was there. But what we were able to do is show that the conflict wasn’t as personal as it felt to them, it had a lot more concrete roots to it that could be dealt with. I mean, neither of them were ever going to change their personalities, but they could appreciate each other’s personalities and realize they could both reach their goals, but do it in different ways.

Jamie Duininck (06:07):
Yeah, that’s a great story. And I was going to ask the question of: what’s the most rewarding thing to you about what you do in your career? And it could certainly be different than this. But it’s got to be pretty rewarding to be part of something where … my words … but where you can turn a light bulb on for a family that’s just stuck, and where they can then continue the legacy of that and be really productive in their path forward?

Mark Herringshaw (06:47):
And I get to serve in a lot of different contexts. The majority of my work is in family business. And it’s never fairy land. It’s not that you can set something up and this becomes like heaven on earth immediately. That’s not the case. But to be able to see the potential of a family business function as close to the way it really could be, I just don’t think there’s anything that’s more delightful than that.

I’m headed into a family retreat this weekend, we’re recording this on Friday night and all day Saturday. Wonderful family business. Very niche business, but a dominant business in their market. And it’s heading into a fourth generation transition. And three of the emerging family members are coming with the legacy leader. He’s not in a position to retire yet, but he’s preparing already how his kids are going to transition.

This has been a year long engagement for us and it’s been one of the real delights, because they’ve really gone at this intentionally and worked really hard at it. It’s not been easy, there’s some things in the history of this family business that are kind of heartbreaking when you get under the surface of it. But they’ve worked through that. And there’s a tremendous joy in that the next generation … these are all kids in their 20s who’ve gone to school and prepared. They’re not going to walk in here with silver spoons, they’re going to work really hard for what’s in front of them. But there’s a tremendous sense that they’re doing it as a family. And they’ve worked through a lot of stuff.

That’s the other thing, when you get in here and you have to walk through things with families, families in business, just like every other family, have all kinds of stuff. It comes at a little bit higher risk when there’s a resource involved that the family has to steward, that, in many cases, many, many families depend on this family keep getting their act together and being able to transition it well. So there’s nothing, I think, in my work that’s more fulfilling than watching that happen.

Jamie Duininck(09:47):
Well, I’ve been really pleased to have Mark Herringshaw with us. Thanks for joining us, Mark. And if you’d like to hear more and hear the whole discussion with Mark, you can find it at watertable.ag/business.