During the past dozen years, my research teams and I have evaluated the financial performance of more than 220,000 businesses around the world, built dossiers on more than 50,000 of the best and have interviewed more than 11,000 business leaders across every business category. We've been on a search for whatever it is that allows great leaders and companies to think and move faster than their competitors, to be dramatically more productive than their peers and to consistently innovate and grow their businesses.
The conclusion of our research is that great companies, whose success has withstood the test of time and challenging economic cycles; all have a short list of four or six guiding principles that are known, believed and practiced by everyone in the organization.
The advantages of operating with a set of guiding principles or values are numerous. When a company has a list of guiding values, the enterprise becomes naturally faster. Decisions are easily made; they either fit the guiding principles or they don't. Decision making is moved downward because the guiding principles provide a very clear roadmap for everyone to follow. When everyone knows and uses the rules of the road, everyone in the enterprise is able to spend most of their time doing what's most important; contributing to the organization's growth.
The creation of a set of guiding principles is not a group activity. The leader's first responsibility is to create and make known to everyone in the company a list of the guiding principles or values — the rules of the road — by which all decisions will be made. Here are a few of the guiding principles we discovered during the course of our research.
Doing Well by Doing Good
It starts with taking whatever you do, sell or produce and wrapping it in a purpose that gives meaning to people's lives. If a business is going to become and remain successful it must have a clearly stated noble purpose that's acknowledged, lived and celebrated daily by everyone in the organization.
Great companies understand that the sole purpose of business isn't to make a profit; it's to find, keep and grow the right customers. The byproduct of successfully finding, keeping and growing the right customer is the well-earned profit. Only by continually exceeding the right customer's expectations and having a tacit understanding that each time you exceed them that the bar moves even higher, can a company truly succeed and consistently grow.
Transparency and Truth
The best way to build a highly successful company is to share the knowledge with all the people. As Charles Koch, the founder and Chairman, of Koch Industries, one of the two largest privately held companies in the world, told me, "Knowledge isn't power; execution is power," and he added, "the more people who have the knowledge, the more likely you are to have flawless execution."
This happens when people believe so strongly in something that they have a burning desire to make it happen immediately. The reason it has to happen now isn't for the rapid accumulation of wealth or motivated by greed, but because they truly believe that what they're doing is so important and beneficial to the end user that they need to get it in their hands as fast as possible.
A Road to Prosperity for Everyone
I begin almost every speech I deliver by asking the audience how many of them would like to make more money. Every hand goes up. Next, I ask them how many would like a promotion at some point. Again, every hand is raised high. Finally, I ask them to answer aloud one more question. "When would you like these things to happen?" The resounding response is always a shouted, "Now!"
Everyone wants a better tomorrow than today and great companies either give everyone an opportunity for actual ownership or provide a pathway to compensation and advancement that accomplishes the same objective. When Twitter went public in the autumn of 2013, one of the greatest thrills their CEO, Dick Costolo, recalls is that of the 1400 employees working at their San Francisco headquarters, more than 1200 became millionaires overnight.
Contributed by.. Jason Jennings, a NY Times Bestselling Author & International Keynote Speaker