As stewards, we have a responsibility to preserve, protect and develop the things that we’ve been entrusted with so they can provide the most values for the most people, (to leave them) in better condition when we turn them over to our successor than when we got them, so they can continue to provide the most good for the most people. —Greg Miller,
SALT LAKE CITY — Success in business is more than just adding zeros to the left of the decimal point of the corporate bottom line.
Being successful includes creating an environment in which your employees can thrive and community can benefit in addition to whatever financial reward your company is able to derive.
Speaking to an audience of about 200 local business professionals, Greg Miller extolled the value of good leadership, establishing a strong corporate culture, as well as making stewardship and community involvement top priorities for companies in the areas they do business.
Miller, chief executive officer of the Larry H. Miller Group of Cos. and the Utah Jazz, was the featured speaker at the Utah chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth’s monthly networking breakfast Thursday at the Little America Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City.
“I’m thankful to have essentially grown up inside an organization with such high standards and timeless values,” Miller said. “Although I didn’t realize it until much later in my life, the exposure I had to the corporate culture that my dad established in my formative years was one of the biggest influences in the person I became.”
Privately owned and founded in 1979 by the late Larry H. Miller, the LHM Group comprises more than 80 businesses in 46 states, with about 10,000 employees and total assets valued at approximately $2.6 billion.
Today, the corporation includes 52 car dealerships, as well as finance, insurance, real estate, sports and retail properties generating an estimated $4.3 billion in overall yearly revenues.
“As stewards, we have a responsibility to preserve, protect and develop the things that we’ve been entrusted with so they can provide the most values for the most people, (to leave them) in better condition when we turn them over to our successor than when we got them, so they can continue to provide the most good for the most people,” Miller said.
“A side benefit” of operating within a stewardship mentality, he said, is that “we become less self-centered and more outwardly focused.”
A stewardship approach carries with it a sense of humility and gratitude, Miller said, “and those traits foster an environment where employees feel comfortable and want to give their best.”
Using the example of the controversial trade of Jazz All-Star point guard Deron Williams in 2011, Miller also said that company leaders have to be willing to make tough decisions that may draw heavy criticism but in the end can make the company stronger.
“While it was very unpopular at the time, we knew it was the right thing to do,” he said. “It was a very, very difficult thing. But as I stand here today, I can tell you that I’m glad I did it, and I’m proud of the fact that we tried to do the right thing for the right reason, no matter how uncomfortable it was.”
That trade has yielded high draft picks and key player acquisitions that will benefit the team for years to come, Miller said. Conferring with smart team executives about the pros and cons of such an important transaction, he said, was among his proudest moments as CEO.
Miller said taking a collaborative approach at decision-making and surrounding yourself with trusted, experienced executive management that can add perspective that you may not see will have leaders make the best decisions for the long-term good of the company.
“I’m one who strives for excellence in everything that I do,” he said. “And whenever I do something, I try to do it better than my previous best. If I’m able to do that, then things will be OK.”
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