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The Behaviors of Successful Companies

by Jim D. Potter

If you ask most leaders of companies today what their most valuable asset is, they will tell you it is their people. I propose that having people as your most valuable asset is the desired result of your Management System, philosophy, and culture. Thus, your most important asset is your Management System. All businesses are economic entities that must make a profit to stay in business. How do they make a profit? By engaging and retaining customers. It is the only way! Peter Drucker (the management guru of the last century) is on record as stating that the purpose of a business is to create customers.

Since business and life in general is all about relationships, the most successful businesses are those capable of building excellent relationships with their customer base. Relationships built on trust and proven performance. Hence, my reason for saying that one’s Management System is a company’s greatest asset, or the reason for their lack of success.

The companies with the sustainable advantage have a management system that allows them to recruit the best people, orient them into the organization and flourish within a people first culture. These are the people who are engaged with the company and who go out and create the customer relationships necessary to the long term success of the company.

Within the Management System are subsystems for training associates in their respective areas, i.e. sales, marketing, purchasing, supply chain, logistics, etc. I have heard business leaders say that the key to a company’s success is good processes. I have worked with companies who had terrific, well engineered processes but were not successful. I have worked with companies who had old, outdated processes but produced effectively and profitably. The difference, their people. People, not processes are the key to making things work. If they believe the company cares about them, trains them and empowers them, they are engaged and view the customers as their own.

Therefore, today’s challenge for the leadership at our companies is to have a strategy and process for winning the war for top talent. In a Harvard Business Review article in 2015, Southwest Airlines stated that they receive a job application every two seconds. Thankfully, because of their culture they had the luxury of having to hire only 2% of all applicants. They hire based on values, not skills. They look for three attributes: a warrior spirit; (that is, a desire to excel, act with courage, persevere and innovate); a servant’s heart (the ability to put others first, treat everyone with respect and proactively serve customers); and a fun-loving attitude (passion, joy and aversion to taking oneself too seriously.)

  • Noted author Jim Collins recommends you hire first for “will” then these:’
  • Will…SWA’s warrior spirit
  • Value…the test for culture fit
  • Results…in the end can they deliver
  • Skills…least important since they need updating every 5 years

Dominic Barton, Global Managing Partner at McKinsey & Company and co-author of the book “TALENT WINS: The New Playbook for Putting People First” from the Harvard Business Review Press is one of the latest attempts at educating corporate leaders on how to acquire, manage and deploy talent in today’s competitive market. Mr. Barton says that just 2% of the people within a company are driving a lot of value. You have to find those people!

What are you doing to attract, identify and prepare your 2%? For over 40 years I have led company culture transformations and have turned companies to profitability in health care, manufacturing, retail, and technology using the People First Philosophy. Utilizing our assessments, seminars, workshops, and coaching you will be empowering your top talent and begin getting the very most from your entire team.


Jim Potter is Co-founder of The Potter Group, LLC headquartered in Dallas, Texas and Strategic Partner with Advanced Pro Technologies. Jim has been leading management teams, turn-arounds, and entrepreneurial ventures for over 40 years. Known for his strategic thinking and culture transformation, Jim has been sought out to lead companies in the education, technology, manufacturing, retail, printing, and health care industries.