According to the 2019 edition of PwC’s US Family Business Survey the number one area for family businesses to consider in order to build a lasting and profitable legacy is “to codify their values”. As a 3rd generation family business owner whose been on a Values Based Leadership journey for the better part of the past two decades, I couldn’t agree more.

Values help attract and retain the right people

Back in 2003, we defined the culture we wanted to create at Luck Companies using a set of organizational values and behaviors that support them. Our values are not just a fancy poster on the wall, but a set of principles that shape how we make business decisions. How the work gets done matters just as much as what work gets done.

Over time, our values have seeped into every aspect of the business, from processes to customer experiences to hiring to compensation. We’ve committed to building a sustainable and growing family-held enterprise, with a culture where people come first and have roles that invigorate their purpose, passions, and competencies.

In today’s global market, there’s an ever-increasing competition for talent. At Luck, part of right for us means finding people that are interested in our mission of igniting human potential. That takes an others-oriented kind of person. The person that’s going to do the best work here, sees our values and aligned behaviors and says, “Those behaviors and values speak to me. They speak to who I am and who I want to be from the time the alarm goes off in the morning until I go to bed”. If you want to find associates who will thrive at your organization, look for people who are really switched on by your mission, vision, and values.

Values help sustain growth during times of change

Recently, we acquired Stephens Industries – a rock quarry, along with a concrete and construction debris recycling business that sits outside of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Due to the confidential nature of the transaction, we did not have access to really understand what the beliefs, values, and principles were of the 80+ associates.

A company’s culture may be the most overlooked and undervalued aspect of mergers and acquisitions. Many folks are much more comfortable dealing with costs and synergies than culture, despite the potential for culture to enhance or destroy an acquisition’s value. We understood this was a business risk, because if the majority of associates leaned out we would incur huge transition costs. We also understood that forcing the company to immediately conform to our cultural mold was not the solution. We understood that we needed to lead with our values and approach this as a mutually beneficial learning opportunity.

We met with small groups of associates and shared some of the things that were important to us culturally. At a high level, we talked about our four company values of integrity, leadership, creativity, and commitment – and the aligned behaviors we look for in our associates. But we also talked about important parts of our culture that we knew they would instantly relate to – like safety, family, and consistent leadership. From day one we started talking about our values. Our expectation is that the new team will be curious about our values, understand what they mean, and try to make choices that are in alignment with them. Because when they do, we will be an incredibly effective and high performing team.

Values have an impact far outside of the office walls

I believe that people are reaching for Values Based Leadership. They want to understand the mission, the purpose, and the reason for being of an organization. Twenty years ago, the focus was mainly on financial performance, customers and stakeholder value. Clearly their importance is not up for debate, but now there is an added expectation of social responsibility and impact beyond profit. Many of today’s most successful family-owned businesses are extending the power of their values to benefiting others—not only their businesses and people, but also the communities in which they operate.

Family businesses employ 60% of the U.S. workforce and create 78% of all new jobs. So family businesses have this incredible opportunity and responsibility to make a difference in the world. Values help us see success through a different lens – and that success can truly come to life when values are integrated and embraced as part of the business.

How are you building on your family business values for success?


Charlie Luck
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