- March 11, 2010
INDIAN WELLS, CA | As part of the Tag & Label Mfrs. Inst. (TLMI) continuing emphasis on surviving the great recession at its annual Converter Meeting, held March 7–10 at the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort, Jason Jennings was invited to reveal the tactics and strategies of the 10 American CEOs who have created the greatest amount of economic value over the course of the past decade.
As prelude to providing the five shared leadership traits of successful companies, Jennings, founder of media consultancy Jennings-McGlothlin & Co. and author of Hit the Ground Running, shared some of the following answers to questions he posed in a survey among TLMI membership prior to the meeting. The responses identified what issues are preventing members from attaining their goals:
• Political environment
• Unable to get growing again
• Grabbing market share from competition
• Finding the right people
• Doing same old thing when everything has changed
Jennings then shared the research results of a study performed by his consulting company on over 72,000 companies out of which only 20 companies grew organically every year for 10 years. And the best company in the world, it was determined, was Nucor Steel, based in Charlotte, NC, which nurtured over 25,000 steel workers who earned an average of $125,000 per year. The company has claimed it has never had a layoff for lack of work. From companies like this, Jennings summarized the five traits found in every successful company:
• Trait #1: Leadership of companies that grow consistently turn what they do into a cause. A cause is not a mission or vision statement, and it’s more than a goal. Leadership of these companies hire people with attitude before aptitude and who want to make the world a little bit better. Causes give meaning to people’s lives. A cause builds culture, which is the ultimate competitive advantage, because it cannot be copied.
• Trait #2: The leadership of companies that grow consistently let go of yesterday’s “breadwinner” projects that no longer produce value. Ego is the barrier to letting go. When you let go, you’re better able to deal with change, you can stay more focused than your rival, and intervention and growth are not accidental.
• Trait #3: The leadership of companies that grow consistently make certain that everyone knows the strategy and do not keep it a secret from their employees. Otherwise workers are unable to become emotionally connected to their work, plus there’s zero accountability.
• Trait #4: The leadership of companies that grow consistently get everyone to think and act like owners. When every employee thinks and acts like an owner, everyone knows how and what they do to create economic value, how it’s measured, and how it can be improved. This creates more value.
• Trait #5: The leaders of companies that grow consistently do not see themselves as “leaders” but as stewards of shareholders, customers, and their employees. Stewardship is service over short-term self-interest. They abandon power over others by preserving and sharing information, being accessible, and they keep their hands dirty by getting rid of superficial distinctions, such as big offices or fancy cars. Stewards stand for something by making things better; they are coaches and mentors and are called to serve by making certain that success is possible for everyone in their company.