The Three Characteristics that unite the world's most admirable businesses.

What makes a company admirable?

That was the question that Forbes Magazine and the Korn Ferry Institute set out to answer when studied 486 companies to find out what the best companies looked like, and what qualities aspirational companies wished they could achieve.

The World’s Most Admired Companies

The 10 most admired companies in the world, according to the businesses surveyed were:

  1. Apple

  2. Amazon

  3. Alphabet (Google’s parent organisation)

  4. Berkshire Hathaway

  5. Starbucks

  6. Walt Disney

  7. Microsoft

  8. Southwest Airlines

  9. FedEx

  10. JPMorgan Chase

According to Forbes and the Korn Ferry Institute, there are three things that unite these companies:

Business Agility

All of these companies have been able to adapt to changing business conditions. Apple, for instance, started out in computers, but have now diversified into software, consumer electronics and much much more.  

Korn Ferry senior client partner Mel Stark states “A hallmark of these firms is consistently strong performance and reputations amid changing business conditions.”  Indeed, 95% of the companies who made the list stated that organizational agility was a critical emphasis. Additionally, 84% of the listed companies said they were always looking for the next innovation in the market, and attempting to build and capture new markets.

This means constantly searching for new revenue streams and always looking for new opportunities. 

Workplace Agility

74% of the companies surveyed recognised the trait of agile thinking in their promotion and succession plans.

Mark Royal from the Korn Ferry Institute believes that “The world’s most admired companies recognize that even in a world increasingly driven by technology; people remain the critical determinant of success.”

This means training and promoting people for future roles and opportunities, and not simply giving all of the ‘golden roles’ to those employees who have been with the organisation for the longest.

Employee Retention

The ability to retain employees is highly admired by business peers.

A high turnover rate can indicate a toxic workplace culture, a lack of opportunities for progression or that the organisation can’t afford to pay competitive rates.

The survey showed that successful companies believed that organizations needed to properly incentivise employees and have a clearly communicated sense of purpose that all employees agree with.

By creating a clear, understood message about the direction and expectation of the company, as well as proper remuneration, employees are happier and work harder. This leads to better results, higher profits and greater levels of innovation.

You can read the full report here.