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Every year, Fortune Magazine partners with the Great Places to Work folks to identify the 100 best workplaces. I used to consider this issue of Fortune to be just the “dog and pony show” of corporate America; however, the report has evolved into a treasure trove of insights and lessons that these one hundred companies are hoping their competition never figure out.

I encourage you to grab a copy of the newsstand whiles it’s there and mine the leadership and management gold. In the meantime, I thought I would share the key insights I gained and that I’ll be applying.

I identified three themes and key insights for each theme in my study of the articles and summaries of the 100 Best Places.

  1. Best Place to Work leaders see their company culture as a true competitive advantage
    • Although perks and benefit are good, the essence of the culture of a Best Place to Work is not just about perks.
    • Relationship focused. They surround their people with great people and create opportunities for them to create, nurture and deepen those relationships.
    • Co-workers really care about each other.
    • They have a high standard of respect and treatment for the lowest and highest paid person.
    • There are real opportunities to grow professionally and also make a difference in a way that transcends the day-to-day.
  2. Best Place to Work leaders are always striving to get better
    • They invest more each year in training and development.
    • They recognize the changing dynamic of work and support their employee’s ability to integrate work and life outside of work.
    • They are intentional about diversity (gender and racial) in the workforce, especially leadership (see Aflac and Cisco).
    • They make a consistent commitment to their culture and their people. There aren’t many “one hit wonders” on the list.
    • Re-invention and transformation are always on the table to remain relevant and to improve but without sacrificing the culture.
  3. Best Place to Work have leaders who listen
    • Whether it is sharing quarterly financials, making strategic decisions, taking the pulse of the organization or daily hallway conversations, leaders at these companies are listening and responding to what they hear by tailoring the workplaces from this input and serving the legitimate needs of their people.

Of the three themes, which needs the most work in your leadership?

What’s one key insight that you will put into action in your leadership?

Jeff Harmon

Jeff Harmon is the president of Brilliance Within Coaching & Consulting which specializes in developing servant leaders while helping them translate their strategies into actionable plans that drive business results. Jeff is the author of “The Anatomy of a Principled Leader.” Jeff has been developing leaders for nearly 20 years and has led the execution of over 100,000 hours of business strategy for information technology, financial services and non-profit organizations.

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