4 Essential Elements to Business Greatness

One of my favorite business books is Jim Collins’ “Good to Great“. If anything, it got me to think a lot more about greatness and what that really means. It also pushed me to figure out, in combination with my own 25+ years of experience, what “essential elements” need to exist within a company to achieve lasting greatness.

As I noted in last Saturday’s post, I’ve reduced the elements down to 4, and I presented them to my management team last week. Here they are:

  • Quality
  • Service
  • Leadership
  • Accountability

Number 1, we have to infuse quality in EVERYTHING we do – every interaction and transaction, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. And, even more importantly, we cannot sacrifice quality at the altar of expediency. I find that to be the biggest impediment to real quality – someone thinks that doing it faster is better than doing it right. If you can get that mindset eliminated, you are really accomplishing something.

Next, we have to serve – and to me, that means it’s all about exceeding expectations. We have to be there when our customers need us. We have to fully explain our products and services. We need to follow the “Golden Rule” at all times. And, above all else, SMILE. It’s amazing how doing these simple things can be considered extraordinary, but that’s the consumer world we live in right now.

Then there’s leadership – I sum it up this way: we need to be leaders who
roll up the sleeves, focus on people and are involved and empathetic with them, filter effectively, inspire trust, look at and paint the big picture, are good teachers, are humble yet possess a strong will to succeed, lead from the full spectrum, and are part of a unified team. An even shorter way to say it is “Greatness is as greatness does“.

Lastly, we must hold ourselves and our teammates accountable to the established values, standards and policies that govern our business conduct. We can’t do this sitting in what I call the “comfortable middle” of neither reward nor retribution. We have to lead using the Full Spectrum - it is the foundation of a great team.

The benefits of focus on these 4 elements are threefold:

  1. Sustained bottom line business growth
  2. An excellent reputation as the employer of choice in the communities served
  3. (and what I call the “Holy Grail“) Individual job satisfaction and fulfillment

That’s what I’m shooting for in 2008 with my group. Is it Quixotic? I think not. I’ll let you know how we do.

What do YOU think are the keys to greatness?

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