The guarantee to going from good to Great and Staying Great: No matter the stature of a successful company (from multi billion to a few hundred thousand in revenues) if they’ve been in business more than 10 years there is one common complaint: “why can’t it be like it was in the old days?!” If you’re one of those people who believe in the bullshit that inspired people and an invigorating culture are a normal casualty in corporate growth, then you are in the vast majority. In fact I’ve personally been the leader of organizations where we’ve allowed exactly this outcome. Since this is probably my final attempt, this time Falk will set the standard for a business model that will ensure “Sustainable Greatness”! The purpose of this message is to challenge other business leaders and companies to emulate this model so you too can experience the joy and success of our approach.
A strong team of experienced and motivated people are the key! You can take it for what it’s worth but generally great people don’t leave their place of employment for another opportunity: they leave because they’re kicked out the door through the behaviors of either their leadership or a general corporate malaise, which is all too prevalent in today’s business society! At the risk of sounding arrogant, here are some the most critical criteria for creating greatness within an organization and perhaps some of the solutions to establishing this greatness on a sustainable basis:
1: Choose the right people for your business.
if they don’t believe in the beginning, they never will! People have to trust the leadership and the vision of the company or else they’re just working for a pay-check, while looking for their next employment opportunity. Recent studies have proven most young folks move from one company to another in less than 3 years. If this is happening in your business then you have absolutely no hope for building “Sustainable Greatness”, unless you don’t understand building a strong and cohesive team is fundamental to your success.
2: Challenge the living heck out of your people but also empower them.
There is nothing more motivating than someone seeing their individual contributions being something truly meaningful for the business.
3: Be transparent.
Always, always be open in your communications and be totally transparent with your people as to the affairs and direction of the business. Nothing is more devastating for a company than losing the confidence and trust of the people, which is always the product of uncertainty!
4: Leadership is earned not bequeathed.
Regardless of the title, anyone in a senior position has to demonstrate the behaviors, becoming of a leader, to convince the people he or she are worthy of the role! Leaders have to demonstrate the same work ethic and values expected of the people! Make yourself accessible to your clients and people. MOST IMPORTANTLY SHOW THE PEOPLE YOU CARE ABOUT THEM AND MEAN IT: THERE ARE WAY TOO MANY EMPTY SUITS OUT THERE, WHOSE ACTIONS DON’T MIMIC THEIR WORDS!!!
5: Have purpose beyond growth and money.
Companies always need a purpose beyond growing bigger and making more money; after all rarely do the employees experience the scale of financial rewards that the shareholders do, so why would they care? Things like how the business can have a meaningful impact on society, the environment or an entire industry (in our case it’s solving many of the issues of conventional construction). Knowing they are part of something bigger and more meaningful can be extremely motivating for the people.
6: Do not allow silos or fiefdoms.
Every department and functional role has to be accountable to the entire company and none should be perceived as more important than the other. Sales and marketing cannot be allowed to sell something the company can’t make, regardless of the size of the order. Solutions can’t be developed that aren’t marketable (for whatever reason; cost etc.) or without understanding the full impact on manufacturing capacity. Admittedly I may well have perpetuated this thought but am adamant companies run by finance are one step away from bankruptcy or at least in very serious decline. It’s certainly in finance’s domain to ensure fiscal discipline throughout an organization, but the thought of “Sustainable Greatness” and finance is an absolute oxymoron! Sadly we’ve seen so many great companies (many of them our clients) gradually deteriorate and lose all their mojo as the pursuit of the almighty dollar completely destroyed the motivation of the great people who got them there in the first place.
7: Focus on the future.
Lastly, keep your people focused on the future and the importance of perpetual innovation in every aspect of the business. There is nothing wrong with varying levels of dissatisfaction and knowing we can all do better: complacency, arrogance and fear of making the right long term decisions are the harbingers of failure. Knowing we can always be better and being committed to doing what it takes to achieve that goal stimulates everyone in the organization as well as the marketplace. Although we have yet to prove our hypothesis we truly believe, at least some of these ideas are the key to “Sustainable Greatness”