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Great Performance Creates Great Value, and Poor Performance Ruins It

Great Performance Creates Great Value, and Poor Performance Ruins It

Jason Jennings has written a tremendous new book called, “Hit The Ground Running: A Manual for New Leaders” (Portfolio, 2009).  Through a series of extraordinarily stringent filters, Jennings narrowed his list to the nine best-performing American companies in this century. He then personally interviewed the 10 CEOs (one company has co-CEOs) of these companies. These 10 CEOs did, and did not do, some very unusual things.

They were clearly anti-fancy. When they inherited large personal offices, they got rid of the fancy furniture, brought in conference tables and whiteboards, and created working functional spaces for themselves and their team members. One took out his private bathroom and asked why in the world he would need his own bathroom.

Great Performance Creates Great Value, and Poor Performance Ruins ItThey were anti-buzzwords. None of them talked about six-month strategic development processes, stated lofty and complicated visions, spent insane amounts of money for big-name consulting firms to tell them what to do, or hung posters with catchy themes at every one of their business locations.

They talked with employees, board members, managers and past CEOs. These high-performing CEOs are very down-to-earth individuals. Consistently, they said they didn’t have all the answers and wanted to get to know and learn from as many people connected with their organizations as they could. They were not acting like the proverbial superhero action figures ready to save people from peril. They were genuine individuals who simply wanted to learn anything they could to help their companies succeed in the short and long terms.

The single biggest takeaway from the very best CEOs and their companies is that they maintained a singular focus on improving the performance they felt would benefit their customers the most in terms of creating real value for them.

If you want to be able to strengthen your mantle for greatness, the absolute key is always to improve your performance, which is the actual creation of value that other people will want to use and will benefit from in a meaningful way. If you develop the ability always to do exactly that in good economic and bad economic times, you will be able to handle success and maintain the capacity for greatness over the long term.

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