Three Contributing Factors to the Most Successful Companies

January 7, 2019

Last week, Fortune released this year’s list of the Most Admired Companies. Consistent with past rankings, Fortune evaluated 1,500 candidate organizations: the 1,000 largest U.S. companies ranked by revenue, along with non-U.S. companies in Fortune’s Global 500 database that have revenues of $10 billion or more. The full roster includes 50 companies, from tech giants like Apple in 1st place to iconic brands such as Nike which ranked 16h.

So what are the key contributors that lead to organizations’ success? Here are three key reasons, according to the Harvard Business Review

1. Successful companies don’t adapt; they prepare. Most organizations have become adept at adapting to change, however those featured on Fortune’s Most Admired list actually prepare for change. They anticipate the change before it occurs, and in some cases, are able to capitalize on major shifts by being integral to changes before or while they occur. 

Being prepared is critical whether you’re employed at a Fortune 500 company or an employee in a small business. It’s important to know the mission of your employer; what your immediate supervisor and colleagues expect of you; what the industry trends are and what the competition is doing. This knowledge is power because by preparing for potential change, you’ll minimize negative impacts if and when the change actually occurs.

2.The best companies don’t have more stars; they cluster them. The most successful companies deploy their star talent in a non-egalitarian way intentionally. By assigning their stars only where they can make the greatest potential impact on company performance, these organizations increase the odds of success across the entire organizational hierarchy. Companies that do not deploy stars in this manner can potentially reap similar rewards by instituting a formal mentorship program.

Mentors who coach, evaluate and discuss mentees’ performance on a regular basis are applying Dale Carnegie’s 9th Human Relations principle, ‘Make the other person feel important—and do it sincerely.’  The more important mentees feel, the more likely they are to feel valued, vested and excited about improving so they can ultimately contribute to the overall success of the company.

3.People are core to successful companies’ purpose; not just to profits. Of course companies must focus on facts, figures and benchmarks or risk going out of business, however many fall prey to focusing solely on them. In these organizations, people are often afterthoughts or inputs, perceived as human commodities that can be discarded or deployed as needed.

Many top-performing companies, however, understand that their employees and the workplace culture in which they work, are critical success factors. Dale Carnegie said, “People work for money but go the extra mile for recognition, praise and rewards.” By investing in their people and recognizing great achievements—in addition to focusing on profits, these organizations typically outrank their competition.

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