Family Values

Have you ever taken the time to formally identify and/or prioritize your own values? Congratulations to you if you have as most others haven’t.  This thought provoking exercise is worthwhile, however, as the truth about your values is that they are the foundation of what you stand for and are the basis for everything you have done and every goal you have.  Moreover, your values are what you believe are important in your life and your work and establish your personal standards.  If you can match your values to your goals and behaviour, you are likely to consider yourself as being successful and happy.

There isn’t a template of values that you can simply look online for either as everyone has different values.  Your values are based on your lifetime of experiences and, accordingly, you have values relating to your social, moral, religious, political, vocational, recreational, and many other life experiences.

You also live your values every day and you make decisions based on your values.  For example, if you meet someone and then find out that he`s a criminal, chances are that you wouldn’t be prepared to compromise your values and befriend him.  Similarly, if you met someone you are attracted to, you probably will have to assess how his or her values align with yours and if you are prepared to compromise your values before committing to a long term relationship.

Your family also has its values; many of which are values instilled in you and your siblings throughout your childhood.  If you have ever had an opportunity to have in-depth conversations with your grandparents, you will understand that your values are likely very much in line with their values.  The fact is that your family’s values are its bond and when one family member acts outside if the family’s bond everybody in the family knows it and dissention in the family results.

Values in the Family Business

Family values transcend into family businesses and decisions made by the shareholders and directors of the business are likely to be aligned with those values. For instance, if your family operates a farm that grows health-conscious, organic crops, and has an opportunity to expand the farm business by acquiring another parcel of land, there`s likely to be a lot of discussion and debate within your family about completing that purchase if it was determined that the seller used copious amounts of pesticides and herbicides in growing its crops.  The fact the land purchase presents an excellent financial opportunity is likely to be a secondary discussion.

How buying a parcel of land can be influenced by a family`s values may be overly simplistic, but consider how those same family values could influence, shape, and impact your family`s business when it comes to the appointment of the successor of the business, bringing other family members into the business, reprimanding a family member for his or her actions within the business, establishing philanthropic initiatives, and other day-to-day and one-off events associated with the management of your family business.

Values in Successful Family Businesses

Successful family businesses recognize that strong family values translate to productive business decisions.  They further recognize that the leaders of the family and the business cannot simply impose their values and beliefs on the other family members without causing discord in both the family and the business.

So what do they do?

They hold family meetings to engage in meaningful discussions to better understand and recognize the beliefs and values of each family member.  What they don`t do, however, is try to hold such family meetings on their own.  Rather, they retain the services of a facilitator to manage and direct those conversations to avoid “surprises“ and eruptions among the rest of the family. In using the facilitator, the successful families formulate clearly identifiable values that their entire family can commit to in their lives, their interactions in the family, and in their business decisions.

If you are ready to establish your family`s values, consider retaining the services of a FAMILY ENTERPRISE ADVISOR™ to assist you and your family.  FEA’s have the knowledge and training to address many of these issues and have a network of other professionals that can address issues that are not within their own professional discipline.

For more information about FEA’s, or to find a FEA to work with your family, go to

If you have a question or issue that you would like to read about in future columns, please feel free to email me at  If you want to revisit past columns, they are all online at

Until next time.


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