Every family has values. These values are the filters through which we see the world, interpret data, make decisions, and spend our resources.

One of my colleagues had grandparents who were raised on a farm with a value of working hard together. They believed that working together deepened their connection with each other. As new generations were added to the family, the grandparents wanted to influence their children and grandchildren to stay connected, be supportive of each other, and enjoy celebrating together! This couple had a plan; they asked the family to work together to build a cabin that would be shared by all. That project and process bound the family together in ways that still bear fruit in the 3rd and 4th generations.

At InnerWill, we have the honor of helping family businesses and the families behind them thrive through Values Based Leadership (VBL).

In our experience, most family businesses consist of folks who know how to work hard and have very high commitment. They have a deep desire and the drive to make their businesses successful over the long haul, while navigating the challenges of working with family members. In some of the families, we see the business focus taking priority over their personal relationships. In other families, the personal relationships prevent the business from moving forward in a way that insures the highest level of effectiveness, success and seamless succession to the next generation. It doesn’t have to be either/or. We believe that through Values Based Leadership it can be both/and, and two of the five practices of VBL seem to be foundational in this work: Build Awareness and Develop Relationships.

We begin our work together by building awareness of each family member’s personal core values and style, providing opportunities to share, ask curious questions and learn beyond what they already know about each other. Everyone learns more about themselves, the other family members, and how they can show up most effectively at home and in the work environment. They have the chance to work together to articulate their family’s mission, vision and values and flesh out the practical behaviors that support them.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of facilitating a retreat for a family of six. The parents and their children have a desire for their family to stay connected in the coming years, even when each of the children move out on their own. They spent two days thinking, sharing, reflecting, playing and articulating their individual core values and developing their family mission, vision and values.

InnerWill provided the time, space and facilitation of the process, the family provided enthusiasm, openness, and a willingness to work together. Families who set aside time for this work and allow the space in their lives are taking a step to prioritize the important over the urgent, which benefits the present and the future of the families, their businesses, and also the communities in which they operate.

This notion is woven into InnerWill’s DNA as we were born out of the country’s oldest and largest family held and family run aggregate business – Luck Companies. The Lucks live and understand the impact of VBL in their relationships and in their nearly 100-year-old business. With generation four now involved in the organization, each generation has upheld the family values and encouraged a flourishing culture where the associates are a priority. They exemplify our belief that VBL starts from within and has the power and potential to impact the world for the better.

How are you using values to strengthen your family? Your business? Your community?


Carla Ruiz

Carla Ruiz

Carla’s mission is to fuel growth and development by affirming strengths, challenging beliefs, and igniting potential through Values Based Leadership. She presents, facilitates, and coaches in a variety of leadership programs and with companies intentional about strengthening their culture. In her role as a Leadership Development Coach, she is passionate about increasing emotional intelligence, which she believes is the cornerstone of effective leadership.

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