What’s more important, leadership or execution?

Apple just announced it’s profits for the last quarter and they are higher than any other company has ever reported. Higher than the largest international banks. Higher than the most successful oil and gas companies. Higher than most country’s GDP.

When Steve Jobs died and Tim Cook took over, most thought that Apple was doomed. How would they fare without their charismatic leader? Well, I’d say they are doing just fine. Cook doesn’t have the flair for the dramatic that Jobs has. He doesn’t have the angry episodes that used to drive employees crazy. But what he does have is a fierce ability to get things done.

When you look at some of the most successful companies right now, or ones that have been turned around, it’s because the leader has an intense focus on execution. On getting the important things done and done well. On ensuring that employees know their role in achieving the best result. On measuring success in a disciplined way. On deliberately focusing on the organization’s strengths.

Is it possible that the best decision Steve Jobs ever made was hiring Tim Cook?

Bringing back the old boss

I always find it interesting when an organization brings back an old boss to help make the company successful again. What are the reasons behind it? Was the old boss that good or was the new boss that bad? Was it a failure in succession planning or a bad hiring? It could be all of the above. Here are some examples of companies bringing back old bosses:

  • Proctor & Gamble bringing back A.G. Lafley
  • Apple bringing back Steve Jobs
  • Dell Computers bringing back Michael Dell
  • InfoSys bringing back Narayana Murthy

In all cases (except InfoSys because Murthy was just brought back), the companies performed better when the old bosses came back. It makes you wonder why they left (or were asked to leave) in the first place. Maybe a classic case of “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.”

Turning customer complaints into new sales

In a recent post, I identified different ways to find money and performance boosts. One of the statements was, “Instead of focusing on resolving customer complaints, measure the amount of new revenue generated from those complaining customers.”

Many organizations measure the amount of time it takes customer service representatives to get off the phone, or the volume of calls per hour or maybe even the number of customer issues resolved on the first call. But what about turning that customer complaint on its head and actually making a sale after resolving the issue. When their issues gets resolved quickly and to their satisfaction, customers are grateful. You have just removed one point of stress from their lives.

If you just spilled water on your computer and someone at Apple’s Genius Bar was able to fix it, wouldn’t you be open to listening about an additional warranty to replace your computer if that ever happened again, or some kind of storage device that automatically saves your data? Sometimes it takes a problem for customers to realize what they really need and they’ll be willing to take steps to avoid that problem happening again.

These are the types of opportunities that the best companies in the world look for and exploit.

Of course it requires customer service reps to have a different set of skills, but it also creates a new revenue stream and strengthens customer loyalty. What other opportunities can you find to turn negative situations into growth opportunities?