Think of your favorite companies and what they do for you.  I like Chick-fil-A.  It’s one of the few fast food restaurants that delivers Ritz Carlton service.   Their explanation is, “For the past 66 years, we have built a foundational commitment to service – service to our customers, service to our franchised Restaurant Operators and their Team Members, and service to our communities.  This begins in the restaurant – one customer at a time. We firmly believe in treating every person who comes through our doors with honor, dignity, and respect. We teach it to everyone who comes to work at Chick-fil-A, and it’s something that they take with them throughout their careers…”   I believe them.  I have experienced their friendly service no matter where I travel.

Nordstrom, as another example, is a company known for high-class customer service.  How is the Nordstrom brand built?  It is constructed by the sales people who work there. That exceptional service is a reflection of good people and engage management.
Somewhere in the Nordstrom process the people get the message of 5 star service and then act upon it.  Their manager/employee dynamic can drive the brand but it could also derail it.

A few years ago, Southwest Airlines CEO, Herb Kelleher made the comment that the people, not the bottom line, were sacred at Southwest.” He proved it during a serious recession in which no one was furloughed.  In his book, Good to Great Jim Collins describes the “great” philosophy of a genuine leader, “I don’t know where we should take this company, but I do know that if I start
with the right people, ask them the right questions, and engage them in vigorous debate, we will find a way to make this company

People and how they are engaged by their leadership is what “makes the difference”.  I coach senior level executives and here is what we do first.  We help them get clarity about a vision for life and profession that “inspires” and connects them to purpose.  Critical to the coaching process is the need to connect to meaning.  Jim Collins continues, “When [what you are deeply passionate about, what you can be best in the world at and what drives your economic engine] come together, not only does your work move toward greatness, but so does your life. For, in the end, it is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. And it is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work. Perhaps, then, you might gain that rare tranquility that comes from knowing that you’ve had a hand in creating something of intrinsic excellence that makes a contribution. Indeed, you might even gain that deepest of all satisfactions: knowing that your short time here on this earth has been well spent, and that it mattered.”