My Open Letter to Siblings Mired In a Major Conflict 

By Prof. Enrique Soriano

Dear S (One of the siblings embroiled in a conflict with the other siblings)

In acknowledging the unique challenges that accompany family enterprises, today, I write to you not just as your family advisor and a friend, but as someone who understands the complexities of familial and professional ties. The dynamics of family businesses often give rise to conflicts, especially when siblings find themselves on opposing ends of disagreements.

While it may be tempting to attribute responsibility to your late father for not adequately preparing his children to navigate issues of governance and succession, I believe dwelling on this matter is now water under the bridge. My sincere hope is that we can collectively set aside these differences and allow the process of conflict management to unfold, paving the way for a more constructive and harmonious future.

Allow me to recount a scenario from the X family business, an enterprise I assisted years ago. What was once a thriving legacy built on hard work and dedication underwent a tumultuous transformation after the visionary founder’s passing. Sibling rivalry emerged, evolving into a power struggle that marred not only the company’s success but also the essence of their shared heritage. The conflict endured for five arduous years, resulting in the departure of two siblings and their spouses, the resignation of a key non-family executive, and severe damage to the business’s reputation. It took extensive intervention across financial, family, and operational realms to facilitate recovery.

This tale may resonate with some of you, and it is with empathy and understanding that I address the broader family business community facing similar challenges. Internal conflicts don’t confine themselves to boardroom walls; they permeate family relationships, jeopardizing the very foundations of these enterprises.

As someone who has witnessed the transformation brought about by unity within family businesses, I implore you to consider the following:

  1. Preservation of Legacy:Your family business is more than a financial entity; it’s a legacy founded on shared values and commitment. Strive to protect and preserve this legacy by finding common ground.
  2. Open Communication:Engage in open, honest, and empathetic communication. Understanding each sibling’s perspective is crucial to finding resolutions aligned with the collective vision for the business.
  3. Professional Mediation:Seek the guidance of a neutral third party, such as a professional mediator or advisor, for structured and objective dialogue, navigating through conflicting interests and emotions.
  4. Fostering a Culture of Collaboration:Reestablish the collaborative culture. Encourage shared decision-making and highlight each sibling’s strengths.
  5. Long-Term Vision:Shift focus from short-term gains to the family business’s long-term sustainability. A unified approach enhances prospects and fortifies family relationships.

As we immerse ourselves in the festive season, let’s welcome a period of introspection, reconciliation, and renewal. As leaders of family businesses, you wield the authority to influence not only the destiny of your enterprises but also the narrative of your collective family history. I eagerly await your acknowledgment of the invitation I extended last week, optimistic that you will consider joining me in a formal meeting. Together, we can explore avenues to comprehend the conflict and engage in a more measured discussion, free from heightened emotions this time.

I extend my support to those navigating these challenging times, hopeful that concerted efforts will lead family businesses to emerge stronger and more resilient than ever before.

Wishing you a season of peace, understanding, and familial harmony.

Warm regards,

Prof Enrique Soriano

Want to learn more?

Due to a personal emergency that required me to fly out of the country, the anticipated webinar event on navigating the complexities of family, business, and the family business has been moved to February 3, 2024, a Saturday! In this W+B’s upcoming webinar, we’ll feature Cebu Landmasters Director, Senior EVP, and COO Jose Franco Soberano, along with family legacy coach and advisor Steve Legler from TSI Heritage in Canada and myself. Secure your spot now and explore strategies to align core values with growth objectives in family businesses. Reserve your seat today through Pat at