Top 20 companies for leadership development

The top companies for leadership don’t just talk about talent development. They are far more likely than other companies to have formal leadership training programs in place and to offer mentoring by senior managers. Hay Group research shows that top leadership companies are more collaborative and more encouraging of outside learning, and they more often reward employees for novel business ideas than other organisations.

Top companies take a holistic approach to leadership, employing strategic practices aimed at developing and motivating up and down the organisation. The Hay Group report says that 73% of what it considers the Top 20 leadership companies make development opportunities available to every employee, compared with 47% of other companies.

The best companies for leadership “recognize that many of the skills once required solely for senior leadership roles – high levels of emotional intelligence, commitment to continuous learning, analytical thinking – are now critical at every level of the organisation,” Ruth Malloy, global managing director of Hay Group’s Leadership and Talent practice, said in a news release.

Previous Hay Group research shows that companies regarded as the world’s best have at least one common trait: CEOs who have risen through that company’s ranks.

The recent research goes one step further, showing that companies take a forward-looking approach to developing talent for the most critical roles in the future, intentionally identifying leadership candidates and equipping them with the right skills for those roles.

Among the ways this process occurs in top leadership companies, according to Hay Group: higher usage of web-based leadership modules (72% compared with 39% at other companies), classroom training (80% vs. 55%), and mentoring by a senior manager or executive (68% vs. 39%).

Embracing innovation

Seventy-six per cent of the Top 20 companies “reward and stimulate cross-business-unit collaboration to develop new business lines,” compared with 54% of other companies, the report says. Additionally, top companies are more willing to let employees fail while trying something new. A strong majority (72%) of top companies treat failure as a learning opportunity, compared with 59% of others. Eighty per cent of top companies view employees “in new start-up or innovation areas as having equal importance to those driving operational improvement,” compared with 56% of other companies.

The top companies are also more likely to nudge workers to excel: 78% say they “[provide] employees with creative challenges rather than narrowly defined tasks,” compared with 62% of other organisations.

Employees at top leadership companies are more likely to be encouraged to learn skills outside their area of expertise (70% vs. 48%) and more likely to be rewarded “for really new and different business ideas” (77% vs. 58%).

Related CGMA Magazine content:

Poor Talent Management Hinders Companies’ Growth, Innovation”: Inadequate talent management is hindering the competitiveness and financial performance of businesses, a CGMA report suggests.

Four Steps to Identify Future CFO Talent”: Many US companies still haven’t identified future CFO candidates, a survey by executive staffing firm Robert Half Management Resources suggests. To better prepare for succession, companies should follow four steps.

Neil Amato ( is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.

The Top 20 for 2013

Procter &; Gamble led Hay Group’s global list of the top leadership companies for 2013. Microsoft, General Electric, Coca-Cola and Unilever rounded out the top five. GE has held the top spot five of the past seven years and has been in the top four all eight years of the survey. Two companies in the top ten, Spain’s Telefónica S.A. at No. 9 and Facebook at No. 10, made their first appearances in the Hay Group list.

The full list:

1. Procter &; Gamble
2. Microsoft
3. General Electric
4. Coca-Cola
5. Unilever
6. IBM
7. Wal-Mart
8. McDonald’s
9. Telefónica
10. Facebook
11. Intel
12. Samsung
13. 3M
14. Nestlé
15. Siemens
16. Oracle
17. Citigroup
18. Caterpillar
19. Toyota
20. Ford

The criteria for the rankings are based on a self-survey of a company’s leadership index as well as peer nominations, according to Hay Group. Respondents answer questions about their company’s practices and also pick three outside organisations they believe do a good job developing leaders. A company can’t make the list without a mix of in-company and peer praise.

Hay Group surveyed nearly 18,000 individuals at more than 2,200 companies from 125 countries.