13 Characteristics of the Best Companies

 In Business Success, Leadership, Leadership Development, management, Organizational Change
The best companies have great workplace cultures.  Aristotle wrote, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act but a habit.” He was referring to people, but this is true for organizations as well. The culture defines the quality of a company’s mission, approach to business, policies and the working relationships to get things done. The best companies tend to achieve great results like:
  • Lower employee turnover and higher loyalty and employee engagement.
  • Superior customer service or high-quality products or, ideally, both.
  • Enviable and sustainable sales growth.
  • Good profits.

What are the Characteristics of the Best Companies? Do YOU Work for One?

The best companies

After working with a couple hundred companies, studying the research, and reviewing numerous articles and books, I outlined the following characteristics for the best companies. Now many organizations preach how good they are but they are great pretenders instead. Glassdoor, engagement studies, and other resources quickly reveal the culture of most companies.

Use this as a checklist for rating your company. How does it stack up? What would you add?

  1. Integrity
  2. Customer focus
  3. A purpose driven vision (that includes making this a better world)
  4. Engaged Leadership
  5. Risk-taking
  6. Teamwork
  7. High-performance standards
  8. Highly engaged employees
  9. Excellent employee development and training
  10. Positive communication
  11. Excellent benefits
  12. Innovation
  13. Limited or no politics

This is the twentieth year for Fortune’s list of the top 100 best companies to work for. Google is #1 for the eighth time in eleven years. These twelve companies have made the list every year: REI, Publix, Goldman Sachs, Whole Foods, Nordstrom’s, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Cisco, W. L. Gore and Associates, TD Industries, Marriott International, SAS, and Wegman’s Food Markets.

Granted, companies on the Fortune list have to go through an application and certification process. There are other companies just as good or better who don’t bother with the process. Again, Fortune best companies do excel and give others a template for improving employee engagement, customer service, revenue growth (3X others) and profitability.

What’s Most Important for Leaders

The best companies and best leaders

If you are a manager, how do you embrace and apply these qualities to your team? A company can have a great culture but a manager can lead terribly because of poor people skills. Or a company can have a lousy culture and a manager can lead superbly with great people skills. The manager is the difference. Bottom-line, if you want your team to be better, you have to be a better leader.

For accelerated individual online leadership training go here: RCI Online Leadership Training.

Want to accelerate your career? Check out one my books in the Superstar Book Series for a boost!

The best leadership book, Superstar leadership


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Rick Conlow
Rick Conlow is the CEO & Founder of Rick Conlow International, a consulting, training and coaching firm. He has helped over 200 companies such as Target, Costco, Andersen Windows, Spectrum, Northern Power, Meijer, Carpet King, International Truck, John Deere, Lowes Financial, and Canadian Linen improve customer loyalty, increase sales and add profits. Rick has been a general manager, vice president, training director, program director, and national sales trainer. He has authored 22 books, and regularly speaks at conferences and to audiences of all sizes.
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