International sport is fascinating, especially to note the trends, changes in approach and changes to the rules of whichever game is being played and the dominance of certain countries in the respective sport expressions that are national favourites. In soccer, Brazil, France, Italy, Germany and now Spain have all had their moments. With cricket, Australia seemed to define how the game was played particularly in the shorter versions of the sport, until West Indies, South Africa, England and India came to ascendancy. South Africa dominated and defined how rugby was played in the world for a long stretch (winning 16 international games in a row) before New Zealand started setting the pace again. It would seem that if provincial/or city clubs can define the sport and how it is played at a local level, this translates into superior ability and performance for the national team and thus for the country in international competition. Spain proved this at the Soccer World Cup Final in South Africa a couple of years ago, with the side being largely comprised of Barcelona and Real Madrid players – Spain’s two best local squads. The team that defines how the sport is played is usually the team that will have the ascendancy and probably win.
Company ascendancy (and hopefully an ascendancy that is sustained) seems to be derived from focus on a number of crucial dynamics that govern behaviour within the organisation, the same delivering on results over and over again – here the company defines the game. They seem to be as follows:
- An unrelenting focus on the business engine – the products and processes that make money for the company. Here, I am not implying that the only thrust of the organisation should be economic, but I am suggesting that the company should be prioritising, refining, investing in and putting energy into its products and money-making model and processes continuously. Focus should be applied to that which the company produces uniquely – better than anyone else can do.
- An over-riding passion for employing competent leadership – having the right executives in key positions is critical to steer the organisation through turbulent times when they arise within the firm’s operating industry sector. Furthermore, as Jim Collins suggests in Good To Great, robust strategy flows from the right leadership and not the other way round.
- A big heart for superior client service and customer experience – this not only includes the creation and sustaining of a seamless after-sales service, but also involves building relationships and understanding client needs. Affinity with the brand is crucial here.
- An inclusive and growing organisational psychology – this attitude deals with the recognition, development and utilisation of all talent and available skills right across the organisation. An environment, so created, that welcomes and embraces new ideas, suggestions, on-going evaluation and the culture of learning, is one where staff feel valued and can contribute freely.
- A robust relational culture of respect, dignity and value – here the company’s DNA is shaped by a set of living values from which there is no deviation. The staff complement learns to trust leadership consistency in relation to the values – this gives them a sense of security and an operating framework for daily work effort.
An unrelenting organisational focus is required if a company is to position itself as the leader in its particular sector – one that defines the game. Organisational integrity follows the application of focus to the business engine, great leadership, superior client service, recognition and development of talent and a culture where people feel valued and respected. As this organisational integrity develops, so also does the brand.