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This article is to address an important aspect of family businesses that has a direct impact on their future success, namely the effects of social exchange between the leader of a family business and prospective future leaders. A model has been formulated that examines the probable effects of destructive leadership on the respective welfares of each generation and examines the resultant willingness of the next generation to contribute to the firm. How the actions of the family business leader are perceived by the family members as being of a negative or conflict-inducing nature, i.e. his/her interactions with the successor, are seen to be of utmost importance. Consequently, the use of a ‘communication compass’ is proposed as a way of ensuring that communication patterns between generations is perceived as appropriate, to enable both leader and follower to benefit in the long run.