According to Fortune’s 2016 report of The World’s Most Admired Companies, which surveyed over 4,000 executives, directors, analysts and business insiders; Apple again commands the top spot on their list, for the 9th consecutive year! It’s followed closely by Alphabet (Google), and Amazon. With a track record like that, we’ve got to understand the ingredients to their success.
First, it’s important to know that the attributes used to determine this ranking include quality of products, quality of management, innovation, long term investment value, talent attraction, financial soundness, corporate asset use, social responsibility, and global business. A well rounded set of criteria that considers all facets of the business.
Apple CEO Tim Cook was interviewed by Adam Lashinsky to get his take on their phenomenal achievement, as well as how they’re handling criticism of recent fiscal first quarter performance, which was strong, but missed investors’ revenue expectations. His response provides several tips as a good reminder for leaders in any organization.
- Block out the noise.
Analysts, media, shareholders, and others will always have some comment or critique about your products or services, but be selective about who you’re listening to. You can’t react to every question or criticism. You can’t be all things to all people. A prime example is their recent issue with the U.S. government on providing access to encrypted information on an iPhone. Whether you agree with Apple’s position in this situation or not, overall, you must evaluate every option and potential product or service based on the next point.
- Focus on your mission and vision.
Cook talked about staying focused on “making the best products that really help people enrich their lives in some way.” So do your mission and vision inspire and excite employees and customers? Does your product or service continue to align with your purpose and the areas where you’ve been successful? Or does your company get distracted by what I like to call shiny objects alongside the road. You know, getting caught up in the latest trend, trying to do what other companies are doing, or letting financial goals be the primary driver to all decisions. Which leads to point three.
- Identify balanced metrics
Cook says he’s driven by the data that shows his customers are happy. And while recent sales didn’t meet analysts’ expectations, they still sold 74 million iPhones at a profit of $18 billion. The temptation to chase profits is HUGE, but most businesses need to take the long view and invest in their future, build a strong internal and external brand, and be known for the quality of their products and services; along with maximizing performance in the immediate term. What metrics best reflect your organization’s goals, market positioning, customer and employee needs?
- Explore the possibilities
Apple has a primary focus on innovation and is widely rumored to be working on a car project. While Cook would neither confirm nor deny that, he did admit that the DNA of the company includes curiosity around a variety of product options that align with their mission, and deliberately selecting a few to pursue. Their cash position makes this easy of course. But they approach it from a perspective of exploring technologies and different ways to use them to align with the focus on making great products that help people.
How Can You Become Most Admired?
So your company or team may not be quite as big as the 1,500 that were considered for this top 50 list. But you can still be greatly admired by colleagues in your industry, geography, or organization. Consider the following questions.
- What are you doing to ensure you are a great place to work, and have the best talent for an organization of your size, geography and industry?
- Do you have the right management team to lead you to the next level, or are you prioritizing loyalty, mediocrity, or family members above talent?
- How are you ensuring high quality products and services?
- How does your organization leverage its head, hands, and heart to support social causes?
- What is the global impact of your products and services?
- How are you innovating? What are you exploring that will make a substantial difference in your business or its operations?
- Are you making decisions that will ensure the financial stability of your organization?
- How are you managing and maximizing your corporate assets?
- What are you doing that would make others want to invest in you and your organization?
Addressing the items on this list may be a challenge for some organizations, but doing so is a reflection of implementing a level of organizational discipline necessary for success. And success is what is most admired.