What is the difference between an average and a great company. Could a company have a soul? Asks Geoffrey James for Inc.
The Supreme Court has famously declared that corporations are people. While that may be a legal fiction, it’s absolutely true the companies have distinct “personalities.”
So let’s imagine for a second that corporation is a person and moreover a person with a “soul” — something beyond its mere physical existence.
What would such a soul look like? I think that great companies would embody these seven basic virtues.
Average companies motivate people with fear. As a result, everyone avoids risk and either 1) becomes a bully, 2) becomes a victim or 3) leaves.
Great companies encourage (i.e. en-courage) employees. They respect the courage to try new things and reward risk-taking even when the risk doesn’t pan out.
Average companies have wordy “mission statements” full of bromides and buzzwords. They post the mission statement in the lobby, where it gathers dust and remains unread.
Great companies create passion by harnessing and directly the desires and dreams of employees and customers alike. Typically their mission statements a sentence of 10 words or less.
Average companies have bosses who keep secrets rather than share unpleasant or uncomfortable truths. People hoard information because it gives them control over others.
Great companies use honesty to build long-term trust. They share important information as necessary for everyone to make informed decisions about themselves and their careers.
Average companies give a lot of lip service to the idea of “doing the right thing,” but they only “do the right thing” when it won’t hurt profits.
Great companies “do the right thing” because the executives and investors feel a sense of responsibility to employees, customers and the society at large.
Average companies create stressful environments that result in headaches, muscle fatigue, blurred vision, carpal tunnel, tendonitis and back pain.
Great companies create environments where employee can get things done without driving themselves and everyone around them crazy with stress.
Average companies are full of people who think they’re successful purely because of their own efforts.
Great companies are full of people who understand that everyone is standing on the shoulders of giants.
Average companies are often dreary places. While some employees are positive and motivated, they fight against a constant flow of negatively.
Great companies understand that joy is the highest form of productivity and that profit is just a bonus byproduct.
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