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The CEO at Work: Leading with Family Values

Running a successful and generational family business can present a unique set of challenges. CEO Carter Tolleson explains how remaining true to your values can benefit a long-term outcome.
By Carter Tolleson |
Tolleson Wealth Management

I recently found a letter from my late father-in-law while looking through a stack of old papers. The letter referenced an article I’d written called “The CEO at Home: Can You Change,” where I shared the challenges some face with being the boss at work, then having to translate those same leadership qualities to a successful home life.

My father-in-law loved that piece and suggested I follow up with “the qualities that sustain a family.” When thinking about that topic, I realized the transition from a CEO of a business to a father and husband feels very natural to me.


When Tolleson Wealth Management was founded, originally as a family office to manage our financial affairs, it was a business rooted in our family values. As you would expect, being in business with family has its challenges. However, we believe the benefits far outweigh the risks. Our values in business still echo the values I hold at home and with my family. Here’s what I have experienced:

  • One of the main benefits we shared as a family was a strong commitment and loyalty toward the company and its growth. How we conduct business and its long-term success are paramount to us. We are deeply invested in what happens next.
  • We’ve created a strong company culture from the beginning, giving our team an organic sense of purpose and identity that manifests differently than in a traditional business. We’re consistently working toward a shared vision and goal.
  • We believe a family culture with shared values in business fosters more teamwork and better collaboration — different than something you might see in a typical corporate environment.
  • We avoid the bureaucracy and power struggles some workplaces face. We can make quicker decisions, adeptly respond to market or environmental changes, and take better care of our clients. Because our purpose is clear, our mindset and energy remain centered on service and not mired in dissension.
  • We can prioritize a long-term view of success rather than short-term gains, ensuring that our company is sustainable and impactful for future generations of clients.
  • We also intentionally put our name – Tolleson – in the business name to publicly show our commitment to the business and to our clients.

After operating for more than 20 years serving wealthy families and their complex financial needs, we’ve found being family-owned greatly benefits our employees and clients. We continue to model a strong sense of commitment, loyalty, and culture. We can support a long-term outlook and maintain a decision-making process that keeps the best interest of our clients at its core. Beyond the rewarding experience of doing meaningful things for our clients, we find being family-owned is the best way to operate our day-to-day.

So, for me, transitioning from a CEO to a father and husband is not a difficult task because I lead my family with the same values I lead Tolleson Wealth Management. I do my best to promote an environment of strong integrity and a steady work ethic, as I do at home and with my children. That is what I think creates a foundation for success, now and in the future.

My father-in-law ended his letter to me stating: “To me, love is the common bond.”

I know this is true and you can’t find that in corporate America.

This article was compiled by Tolleson Wealth Management for informational purposes only. This is not a solicitation or offer to buy a security or to participate in any trading strategy. Please consult your professional advisors before making any tax, legal, financial planning, or investment decisions.

1The 2022 Most Admired CEO award featured 18 CEO position (or equal) honorees at a company in North Texas. A panel of judges selected nominees based on an application and their accomplishments achieved in the past 12-24 months. The Dallas 500 is an annual publication produced by the editors of D CEO. To qualify, executives and leaders must be based in the DFW region, apply, and respond to a questionnaire. The Dallas 500 is not an awards program or a vote-based list. All decisions are made by the editors. Tolleson Wealth Management did not pay to participate in either award.

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