Research shows that all great and enduring businesses with at least 50 years of exemplary performance discovered one secret; there’s no short cut when it comes to success. They were blessed with Level 5 leaders through whom their enduring legacies were built.
A level 5 leader is not concerned about his/her personal credit or glory but rather how to build and leave behind a lasting successful business. These leaders understood that in order to win they must first answer the question of “Who” should be in the team. With the right people in your team you can then steer the business in any direction that’s deemed appropriate.
But exactly who is the right person to have in your team? Level 5 leaders understand that the right person is best determined by more innate qualities e.g. Work Ethic, Adaptability, Integrity, Personal beliefs & values etc. These qualities can be taught but can’t be attained by people who generally aren’t built up as such. Rather than spend resources and time trying to change a person to be more motivated about their work you’d rather hire a person already self-motivated about life in general and help them acquire the skills needed for the job. For Level 5 leaders, Qualifications, Specialized skills and work experience were not a primary consideration. These can be acquired.
Once you have the right people in your team, then together you can figure out what suits the business best to make it valuable to society, shareholders and the workers in the long-run. The danger would be to identify the best business, strategy or continuous improvement initiative to get into and then due to lack of focus or a clear path for the future to keep changing when times are tough, or when we don’t quickly see results. At the slightest resistance we change or kill our continuous improvement programs before we have seen the results. A farmer will not simply quit his trade because of bad weather in one season. He must try for several seasons to really know if farming a particular crop is worthwhile or not.
Likewise our continuous improvement initiatives ought to be given a chance, 3-5 years to see initial results, and for sustainability we ought to hold onto them 10 years or longer because with every plough, the ground is getting more ready to yield a crop
A good strategy or continuous improvement initiative shouldn’t be abandoned every time we have a new CEO or Management Team. The enduring businesses (Over 100 years with the youngest being 80 years) spent a lot of years in the buildup, researching, testing & trying different options without making a profit, some near bankruptcy until their best ideas came to fruition. Once identified, they then stuck to the lane and have never looked back. Have profits followed them? Yes, year in year out for decades.
Consistency and focus will lead to sustainability of your strategic plans including Continuous Improvement Programs. Sustainability will yield to an enduring legacy, which benefits Society, Team members and the business owners!
Don’t hang up your boots yet. Stay focused for sustainability.
Toyota Motor Company, Kimberly-Clark, Walgreens, Fannie Mae, Wells Fargo