Most Admired Businesses 2013 & Why It Matters

December 12, 2013

I look forward to the December/January edition of Management Today (the magazine of The Chartered Management Institute – CMI) each year as it lists the results of their Most Admired business survey.

The survey has once again seen Diageo take the top honour with Berkeley Group and Unilever in the silver & bronze positions. A few weeks ago we blogged about the brilliant turnaround at EasyJet following the appointment and transformational leadership of Carolyn McCall. No surprise then to see them jump up from 45 to number 9.

I’ll not bore you with all the results but I do want to focus on some of those down at the bottom of the pile! The bottom 15 is littered with Banks, Hotels, Betting Companies and a single Transport company, FirstGroup. FirstGroup is the largest UK rail operator and includes First Capital Connect, First Great Western and First ScotRail.

As a regular train traveller to London via Paddington I have sampled the delights of First Great Western for many years. Only in such an anti-competitive market could any business survive with such appalling standards of customer service.

Travelodge UK is also in the bottom few and having experienced a ghastly week in their Maidenhead hotel combined with train travel by First Great Western you can imagine how I felt by the end of the week. Thankfully there are other hotels available in the area but no choice on the railway unfortunately.

So why do surveys like these matter when it comes to leadership?

The CEOs of those business in the lofty places will use it to show their respective boards what a great job they have done. The CEOs of the businesses near the bottom will doubt their worth and deflect the question by pointing out progress in other areas.

As leaders should we be competitive? Of course we should when it comes to awards and benchmarking. What we must not do is allow the ‘competition’ to become our only focus. Focus on doing the right things for your business and your employees (not always an easy balance I know) and the accolades will come.

The best leaders I know don’t chase awards, they chase continuous improvement and business success. The best sales people I know don’t sell to win awards they sell products and services to solve their client’s needs. By doing what’s right they get noticed and win awards, which is just a bonus and justification for a job well done.

One of my clients won a prestigious accolade a few years ago but on reflection they decided not to even enter the competition this year. They felt their management teams were putting too much emphasis and pressure on ‘competition’ rules, rather than focussing on ensuring a great experience for the customer, they are different!

In summary – don’t focus on the prize focus on what wins you the prize!

Many thanks

Stuart Allen

Trainer & Consultant at MTD Training

(Image by Vector Olie at

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