Guarding Against Greed And Envy

Dr Richard Shrapnel PhD
3 min readJun 24, 2022


A series for those journeying through family business succession.

No matter how strong family ties maybe, in family business succession there is always the risk that family members will become envious of the position others have achieved, and envy and greed will become the monster devouring family harmony.

The Twelve Dangers — There are many dangers that the traveller must be wary of and keep a close eye out for. Not only must they avoid these dangers but be proactive in protecting against them.

Danger 8/12 — Greed and Envy — A Monster.

Family members are envious of the positions that others have achieved, and personal interests/greed is overrunning the family.

Greed, and its sister envy, are poisonous to any succession process and will work against the compounding of wealth across, and even within, generations. Their source can be varied, but they must be actively guarded against and not allowed to gain a foothold.

They will first emerge as icy relationships and then quickly move to fiery relationships with the ferocity of wind driven bush fire destroying all in its path with little chance of restoration in the short or medium term.

It is not unusual for events that have caused a family break to be carried through generations. Pride and self-interest are often seen as the cause of these agents of destruction but the catalysts are a failure to communicate and a failure to retain an eye to the future.

The enablers of succession are sown early within a family through the values and principles that are established, and which form the cornerstone of the family and the business. To ignore this truth may well sow a seed that will undo a future succession process and the unity of families across generations.

Opportunities for individual growth, creating a sense of contribution, humility as a trait in family leaders combined with great communications will allow a real sense of fairness and equity to be built within families and across generational lines. An independent succession advisor working across families can often begin to heal any wounds that exist and avoid new wounds arising.

Quotes From Travellers* — Our toughest decisions:

“Agreeing which of the three boys in the business would succeed Dad” — From A Family Business in USA. “Balance family relationship and financial support between who is in business and who is not”From A Family Business in Thailand. “Balancing fairness in asset allocation and business roles for involved in the business.” — From A Family Business in Ireland.

*Travellers quotes are from ‘Succession Reset’ by Dr Richard Shrapnel PhD, published by Baker Tilly International, London. 2014.

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An Invaluable Resource — ‘Transition — Orienteering The Lands of Succession’

A Topographical Guide For Orienteering Family Business Succession