Next Generation Leadership

Values-Based Leadership Transforms Company Culture of Family Business

March 11, 2014 By Kristina Magnuson

by Nick Mellott, MBA ’15

Charlie-bio_0Students in Family Business I: Introduction to Family Enterprise were recently treated to a special guest presentation and discussion with Charles Luck IV, President and C.E.O. of the Luck Companies in Richmond, Virginia (quoted here last week in The Wall Street Journal). Mr. Luck shared with the class the firm’s background and also discussed how Luck’s Values-Based Leadership program has transformed the company.

The Luck Companies are comprised of four business divisions including Luck Stone (aggregate producer), Charles Luck (architectural stone), Har-Tru Sports (clay tennis courts), and Luck Development Partners (real estate). The company was founded in 1923, and Mr. Luck still works closely with his father, Charles Luck III, who serves as Chairman.

Mr. Luck’s lively and engaging presentation captivated the class. My classmates and I were enthralled with Mr. Luck’s ability to inspire innovation through a culture of leadership at his family firm, especially as a third-generation leader in an already well-established company. I took away several key lessons from Mr. Luck:

To build success within a company, everyone involved must share similar values to work towards a shared vision and mission.

Mr. Luck described how, despite achieving tremendous financial success, the company seemed to be lacking a solid understanding of where the firm was going. Using Values-Based Leadership to build a stakeholder-wide vision and mission, the Luck Companies were united behind the shared values of Creativity, Commitment, Leadership, and Integrity. These values have driven the Luck Companies’ culture and have created a strong focus on leadership development within the organization.

You must earn respect before you can make significant changes.

Mr. Luck shared a story about how, shortly after joining the family firm, he eagerly created a list of things to change and improve. After presenting the list to his manager, Mr. Luck was told to come back in several years once he had earned the respect of the co-workers. This was a lesson that Mr. Luck has continued to believe in, and strongly stressed to the class.

A company should focus on people first.

The Values Based Leadership program inspires all members of the Luck team to ignite the human potential within both themselves and the people around them. By focusing on people first, creativity follows, along with customers and subsequent profitability. This leads to solid business for the bottom-line as well.

We would like to thank Mr. Luck for sharing his time and valuable insight. His visit was certainly a testament to the great value and important lessons that I have attained through the Family Business Class and the Family Business Enterprise Center.