John Deere has certainly earned its place among the world’s most admired companies (Anne VanderMey, “World’s Most Admired Companies: Industry Leaders—John Deere Plows Ahead” Fortune, 2/25/13, p. 19).  The agricultural equipment manufacturer is doing a lot of things right, from which we can all learn a few lessons:

1—Leadership Consistency.  As VanderMey reports, John Deere, “has seen just nine CEOs in its 176-year history.”  I am not saying special situations never exist in which a short-term leader is needed for a fast corporate correction.  Nevertheless, with wise organizational-development principles, sound strategy, and excellent talent management, a company will tend to perform better if it has leadership consistency.

2—Research And Development Focus.  Repeatedly I see the companies that tend to excel are the companies that tend to place a high priority on R&D.  Without reinvesting some of your profits back into your creative process, you are ensuring your obsolescence.  VanderMey points out, “Deere spends more on innovation:  About 4% of its annual revenue goes to R&D, vs. the roughly 3% spent by its two closest competitors.”

3—Customer Connection.  John Deere has been known for its strong customer loyalty.  Its sales representatives are more than just sales staff; they become trusted advisors.  Those dynamics are what build excellent customer loyalty.  With a 50% market share, and 65,000 employees, John Deere should enjoy many future bountiful harvests.

Regardless of your market or industry, relook at your leadership approach, your R&D commitment, and your customer-connection philosophy.  If you can make improvements in these three areas, then you will find a winning formula for your organization’s success.

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About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Johnson Controls at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, and a blogger. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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