“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, its the only thing that ever has.”

If I could make a minor edit to this quote from Margaret Mead – I would add that a small group of citizens committed to living virtuously can change the world.

My chief goal or aim in this message is to:

  1. Identify what constitutes a virtuous culture

  2. Describe the benefits of establishing such a culture

Merriam-Webster.com defines culture as: the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization

I may be taking some liberties in doing this – but I am going to suggest that families also fit into this definition of a culture (I hope you can see how some of the principles discussed in this message – could easily be applied to how a family organization operates – even if the comparison between a business and family is imperfect).

So What is a Virtuous Culture?

Kim Cameron – one of the founders of the Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS) is a thought leader in this field – and his research on this topic identifies six essential characteristics necessary to establish a positive workplace culture:

  • Caring for, being interested in, and maintaining responsibility for colleagues as friends – as opposed to a culture that emphasizes self-interest

  • Providing support for one another, including offering kindness and compassion when others are struggling

  • Avoiding blame and forgiving mistakes

  • Inspiring one another at work

  • Emphasizing the meaningfulness of the work – feeling like the work you do is purposeful and allows for growth or mastery

  • Treating one another with respect, gratitude, trust, and integrity

In the article, 6 Characteristics of Virtuous Organizations, the author explored the characteristics of a virtuous organization from the perspective of a family-owned business as he believes that they provide the best practical glimpse into what a virtuous organization should look like (I think you can also see how these characteristics would create a powerful framework for developing a virtuous family dynamic).

6 characteristics of Virtuous Organizations in the Family Enterprise:

  1. Clarity in its mission, purpose, and core values

  2. A strong commitment and responsibility to give back to the community

  3. Emphasizing employees wellbeing and health as a priority

  4. Contributing to philanthropic causes that are consistent with the vision and values of the organization

  5. Long-term view of success – making positive impact for future generations

  6. Virtuousness is not a marketing ploy or driven by external motives – rather it is embedded within the vision, purpose, and values of the organization

[Next week – I plan to identify the role of Authentic leadership in establishing a virtuous culture in your family and organization – but for now – please know that virtuous cultures cannot exist without Authentic leadership.]

So what are the benefits of establishing a virtuous culture in my family or work?

To describe the benefits of establishing a virtuous culture – I will again look to Kim Cameron’s impressive library of research on this topic (my summary):

  1. Virtuous cultures/organizations create an amplifying effect on employees wellbeing and performance – where a virtuous cycle feedback loop continuously reinforces positive outcomes (positive feelings and behaviors actually become contagious – so, when you observe your colleague or parent act in a compassionate, kind, or forgiving manner – it inspires you to act virtuously – and this experience continues to reinforce virtuous behavior in an upward cycle).

  2. They have a buffering effect where employees or family members become more resilient, sacrifice in support of others, meet challenges head on, and are less vulnerable to the negative effects of stress and adversity – thereby having less sick days, decreased anxiety and depression, and feeling more equipped and supported to overcome challenging experiences.

  3. Performance and productivity significantly increases – with members doing their best work, feeling more engaged, becoming more creative and innovative – and experiencing a sense of purpose, significance, and fulfillment in the work they do – leading to higher employee retention and loyalty.

Basically, you increase all the good outcomes and decrease all the undesirable outcomes – which is just outstanding for the bottom line of any organization (and more fun and pleasant to be a part of!). Cameron states, “When organizations develop positive, virtuous cultures they achieve significantly higher levels of organizational effectiveness — including financial performance, customer satisfaction, productivity, and employee engagement.”

Having invested the amount of time and energy that I have listening to business leaders, parents, families, marriage partners, and young adults – I can clearly see how impactful it is when my clients know with certainty that they are in an environment where core values are clear and consistent, human connection is prioritized over profit, when students are in a classroom where they know that their teachers truly care about them as individuals, and when they are in a family or marriage that is committed to engaging and communicating with virtues such as love, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, gratitude, etc., so that even when they might disagree or have conflict – there is an understanding that it can be resolved in a way that builds trust and expresses respect for each other.

While I probably shouldn’t be surprised by the amount of research that supports how instilling virtue into our lives, families, businesses, and organizations is undeniably beneficial in just about every meaningful category that can be measured – and yet, I am still blown away by the FACT that being a good person and creating virtuous relationships – is empirically supported best practices for establishing psychological wellbeing and empowering families and organizations to flourish and thrive!

I will conclude with a passage from Simon Sinek’s great book – Start With Why(WHY is the organization’s mission or purpose – and is also applicable to families):

“Imagine if every organization started with WHY. Decisions would be simpler. Loyalties would be greater. Trust would be a common currency. If our leaders were diligent about starting with WHY, optimism would reign and innovation would thrive. As this book illustrates, there is precedent for this standard. . . if we all take some responsibility to start with WHY and inspire others to do the same, then, together, we can change the world.”

Speak Your Mind


120 Newport Center Dr., Suite 10
Newport Beach, CA 92660, CA 92660

(949) 278-5482

Got Questions?
Send a Message!

By submitting this form via this web portal, you acknowledge and accept the risks of communicating your health information via this unencrypted email and electronic messaging and wish to continue despite those risks. By clicking "Yes, I want to submit this form" you agree to hold Brighter Vision harmless for unauthorized use, disclosure, or access of your protected health information sent via this electronic means.