Why being top of the table could really matter

This week Mark Samuels reveals why leaders should sit up and take notice of lists...

OPINION: Everyone loves a league table. From football results to school performance, modern society is obsessed with lists as simple shorthand for individual or organisational greatness.

We live in a consumer age where everyone seeks instant gratification. A league table is a neat way of showing how someone or something is performing. And no one is immune from this obsession with listing, least of all senior executives at some of the world's biggest firms.

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For most blue-chip executives, their performance in business activity is already classified it's called the FTSE 350 in the UK. But the turn of the year brings a flurry of activity in regards to lists.

I've seen a bunch of tables recently that cover all kinds of executive activity. Some of this commotion is based on company results; other lists focus on more ephemeral areas, including social media.

The great thing about a list of top-performing individuals is that it only infers greatness. Being anywhere on a top 100 list' - be that at number one or number 100 - is a positive thing. If you're on the list, you must be doing something right.

Being included in a group of the most sociable executives allows listed individuals to tweet their performance. It's a nice exercise in self-reference that suits everyone and provides that instant hit of gratification.

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The opposite is also true. Not being in the top 100 infers you're not doing something right, which probably explains why you don't see many bottom 100 lists'.

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