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Mastering (outside) the family business

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Take a page from Evan Greenberg, who this month is to become chief executive of a fast-growing outfit that’s giving his dad’s firm, the monster insurance company AIG, a run for its money.

The younger Greenberg worked at his father’s company for about 15 years until making a sudden exit a few years ago. He had no job or plans, leaving people to think that Maurice R. Greenberg, a tough boss who was said to run roughshod over his sons, may have given Evan the boot.

In any event, Evan joined the multinational Ace Ltd. Now that he’s made two giant leaps in less than three years, Evan has emerged from the shadows.

Three lessons to glean from his story:

1. Learn the business first. Make sure you know what you’re doing before you jump into the limelight.

2. Know what you want to accomplish. Evan wanted to become a “true part of senior management” and to “take a young company and make it into a great company.”

3. Don’t burn bridges. Evan acknowledges that in business, he and his father compete. He also acknowledges that his dad is proud of him. Neither of them says anything more.

— Adapted from “A Greenberg, 3rd in Family, to Be Chief of an Insurer,” Joseph Treaster, The New York Times.

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