The topic that I have picked up this time is NOT very simple and linear to start a discussion with. In fact, companies are packages of emphasis that are operated on many dimensions to fulfill their goals. Some companies focus more on innovation, some on business strategies, some on marketing and sales and so on. Each company has its own unique selling point (USP). Hence, distinctiveness is the basic commonality among them. However, my purpose here is to find out some basic and shared habits of those insanely successful companies.
A leader’s character resulting into incredibly robust team primarily determines the habits of a company. For instance, Apple was so distinctly innovative and different while Steve Jobs was still around as a CEO until 2011 and there has been serious tumble in the company’s habits due to his absence which has many negative impacts ranging from key person’s quitting the company like Sir Jony Ive (the pioneer designer) to plummeting in sales of iPhones.
I have used the word ‘habit’ with a purpose here since a good habit is formed thanks to rigorous efforts and, one must be consistently focused and disciplined to keep up with the same good habit for a long time. Otherwise, the slippery slope of behavior can digress one within no time. Nevertheless, good habits of a company are directly proportional to the inherent character of the leader of that company.
Success of any company is generally measured by its sales revenue, net worth, number of customers, brand value and so on. Some choose to measure the success of any company by the happiness and job-satisfaction index of its employees, and others do measure it based on any company’s social and environmental responsibility.
Now the question is: what are the habits of a successful company from all above dimensions?
Let’s try and peel off the riddles as what traits make a company such a great company!
0. Hiring the best employees– Let me start with an adage: “Hire the people for attitude and train for skills. An attitude comprises of 4H: Honest. Humble. Hardworking. Helpful.”
No matter how much we talk about any other aspects for the success of a company, “PEOPLE” are key to everything since they are the inception to the execution. The very first thing any company should seek in a candidate is whether s/he is PASSIONATE about the job because passion brings about GRIT.
As Steve Jobs says, “I’ve learned over the years that, when you have really good people, you don’t have to baby them. By expecting them to do great things, you can get them to do great things. The original Mac team taught me that A-plus players like to work together, and they don’t like it if you tolerate B-grade work.”
Often times, companies make too much of compromises and leniencies while hiring the employees which would make them just a mediocre ones or even failed ones.
1. Lean and efficient structure– Integrated shape, short processes, one-stop accountability, fixed chain of command, delegation of authority and organic structure (NOT mechanic) are the basic attributes for any successful companies. The right structure also makes sure the RIGHT FOCUS for the company. A company working on many different products or services at a time has high chance of being a failure. Apple was on rocks while Steve Jobs got back in 1997 because the whole company had too many teams working on too many different products. Steve Jobs cut off about 90% of its ongoing projects then by restructuring the whole company.
Efficient structure brings about pro-activeness and prompt decision. Essentially, it is the structure why things don’t crumble down in the time of crisis. I’ve seen many companies expanding horizontally as circumstances necessitate them which would only bring about chaos and sheer inefficiency eventually. Inter-departmental power tussle is the worst possible example because of NOT having an integrated approach.
2. Proper Information Management System– It is a backbone to conduct micromanagement and to maintain check and balance system. This functions as a medium of communications which is like the blood to a body. A robust MIS can systematically fetch data, analyze it to convert into an information so that a leader can make tactful, wise and right decisions. It functions as a glaring torch to make right decisions pertaining to customers and employees. The data gained from MIS can also be empirically used for performance evaluation of staffs. Communication, coordination, employees’ suggestions, customers’ feedback and their analysis are lifelines for companies to navigate through the very crowded market place which happen only with proper information management system.
3. Faithful, Visionary and Charismatic leadership–
a. Faithful– Trust quotient of a leader upon the management in terms of the capability and intent is about being faithful. As Richard Branson says, “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” Instilling positivity, vigor and dedication in employees are also done by faithful leader in a successful company. Whereas, lousy management is when the total is less than the sum of the parts, which is caused by cynical and negative leaders.
b. Visionary– Seeing what can be achieved in the foreseeable future which others generally cannot SEE is being visionary. Normally, companies tend to conduct market research or survey before they plunge into any business. However, the one million dollar question is: what if customers do not know what they really want!?
A visionary leader can grasp what is in the air thanks to his/her intuitive ability.
c. Charismatic– Charisma is the character of a leader that binds the team in one thread. Keeping a team united and focused can yield anything. Real leaders PULL, NOT PUSH. A leader with this trait treats the employees as an indispensable asset. As Richard Branson opines, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”
“No firing for performance reason” is an unprecedented example lately. The company called “next-jump” and many others have exemplified this.
4. Innovative and Adaptable– Creating something new (product or service or ideas) in this very dynamic world is about being innovative and being relevant to the changing need of the market is adaptability. Moreover, it is also an understanding of perceived value creation and its fulfillment. The only way any business would be able to sustain is by being innovative or adaptable. The companies like Blackberry and Nokia failed miserably in smart phone business since they could not see what was coming in the market. However, I also have one more story to tell about Nokia here-
Once known as the world’s largest cell phone maker, Nokia started off as a pulp-and-paper company in the mid-1800s before expanding into power generation around 1900. Nokia ultimately added operations in fields like rubber and telephone equipment and cables through a merger in the 1960s. Even more diversification followed, bringing the company into markets like televisions, computers, and plastics and so on.
As time went on, though, the company increasingly saw better opportunities in telephony, electronics and radio products, and ultimately combined these into mobile communications. Once the company realized the potential of its mobile communications products, it began to divest and sell those other operations and Nokia became what it is today – a company focused on telecommunications technology. It even started gaining its market share gradually on smart phones as well.
5. Company’s Culture– You can’t beat such a team members who are pleasant and friendly to each other, and are both good at and love what they are doing. No program, activity or set of rules tops having happy and fulfilled employees who feel what they are doing matters the most. Successful companies place company culture and personal growth above everything else. Discipline, dedication, focus, perseverance, hard work and passion are born out of great corporate cultures. The discovery of any great business leader is the result of an incredibly productive culture. For instance, Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google was announced as a CEO after he worked for 11 years in Google. He evolved as a leader thanks to the culture of Google. Creating a sense of belongingness through empathy and positive reinforcement, consistent training and development of employees, rewarding the best, imparting new ideas coming from anybody, grievance redressed, career opportunities, everyone’s participation in decision making, transparency and autonomy are the hallmarks of good culture in a company.
LinkedIn is the social networking company for professionals where employees say, “The most positive things about the culture are the people, the attitude, the collaboration, and the inspiring mission.” In the same breath, people working at Google say, “Employees are encouraged to be productive without overexerting themselves. We’re encouraged to take our vacation.”
Hence, culture is what keeps the best employees in a company for the longest possible time.