Our Leadership Team spent some time a few years ago in a discussion that went something like this: “Keller Schroeder is a good company. But are we a great company? If not, what would it take to be great, and how should we define greatness?”
You can imagine that we did not come to closure on this in 20 minutes. Organizations today are admired because of their size, profitability, longevity, and customer service excellence. Others are revered because of the way they treat their employees and serve their communities. Some have excellent employee benefits, inspiring missions or well-defined visions that compel insiders and observers alike to passionately follow their lead.
I believe the foundation to all of these characteristics – and the true measure of a company’s greatness – is the impact that it has on people. Let’s face it. People are what companies are all about. Products are consumed by people. Excellent customer service benefits people. Profits accrue to “shareholder people” and create jobs for “employee people”, empowering them to live and give and impact more people.
If we take a step back from our core business and think about the people (internal and external stakeholders) who are being impacted by what we do every day, we can arrive at some near universal contributors to the greatness of an organization:
- Products and services that have a distinct, favorable impact on the people who receive them.
- A dynamic work environment where employees are stretched to develop their gifts and abilities.
- A performance-based culture offering income-earning and wealth-building opportunities for those willing to work hard and engage themselves beyond superficial levels.
- An atmosphere of caring, where individuals are valued first for who they are – personal, professional, and spiritual – above what they can contribute.
- A manner of interacting with external stakeholders – customers and community of course, but suppliers and partners as well – that builds them up and promotes mutual success and prosperity.
Absent any of these contributors, an organization’s greatness suffers. If people are consistently better off as a result of buying from, selling to, working for, and sharing a community with a company, then it’s a great company. Profitability and shareholder value are the applause of greatness.
Larry May, President