There is a clear and understandable set of measures to becoming the most profitable company in your industry, or having the highest market share. But the firms that become an Apple or Virgin are few and far between. They have that special, intangible quality that not only makes them highly successful, but truly admired.
On the back of true admiration, commercial success and profitability naturally follow. Yet being an admired company is the hardest thing to achieve. What are the ingredients that set these companies apart?
They are the employer of choice
Who decides whether a company is admired or not? People. So an admired company is somewhere talent needs to be a part of – a company they feel is truly committed to solving global challenges – that's making the world a better place, and that they are part of a team of smart people.
Engaging people in this way is easier said than done and goes way past the confines of performance management systems. It certainly doesn't mean admired companies pay the highest salaries. They very often don't – but command employee loyalty that even a hefty chunk of cash from a headhunting competitor won't shift. If you focus purely on salaries, people will leave you like a shot as soon as they get a better money proposition.
Admired companies show the love. Talent today wants to be treated with respect – and showing respect is very difficult. It means making difficult decisions, even if it hurts your position. It means going far beyond the words and walking the talk.
They do the right thing
The hardest part of becoming an admired company is making the decision to be one – while implementing the measures to get there is no walk in the park.
Attracting the best people, then keeping them there, means championing an environment of "truth and courage" to the very last furlong and beyond. It means forging unshakable working and social relationships – horizontally, vertically, internally and externally – even taking them well beyond the confines of company business into family relationships.
Such an environment engages talented people one hundred and ten percent to drive the company to be the most admired – to carry the banner of truth and courage which can only fly if every constituent is there to make its vision a success.
This is a hard path to take but so is being admired on the global stage. To create an environment of "truth and courage " to honor how you address your promises , your communication and how you as the leader make yourself present to be judged by these 2 words is no small feat. Some say impossible. But from personal experience I can tell you when its done you are well on your way to be admired.
They secure undying customer loyalty
But the vision can only work if your customers admire you as passionately as your people do – and will give you their complete loyalty through thick and thin.
Most of the time, customers make their decisions and choices based on objective factors that cement their loyalty – and this is no truer than with admired companies. Have you ever tried to convince an Apple disciple to change their Mac to a PC, part with their iPhone, use any other tablet than an iPad or organize their music through anything other than iTunes? Forget it – it can't be done. Believe me – I've tried.
How do they build such loyalty? By sticking doggedly to their true values and beliefs, maintaining their stance of truth and courage in the design and implementation of their culture, and keeping their promises through the good and bad times.
Are you ready to be an admired company and can you stay the course?