Nurturing Leaders

Manufacturers lead in developing future top executives.

While General Electric Co. is widely known as a company that focuses on developing its next generation of leaders, new research shows that manufacturers as a group lead the pack in developing head honchos.

Fourteen of the firms recently selected as the Top 20 U.S. Companies for Leaders, and eight of the top 10, are manufacturing companies. General Electric is No. 2. The Top Companies research, sponsored by consulting firm Hewitt Associates and The Human Resource Planning Society, showed that these 20 companies showed more rigor in developing leaders than the other 353 firms examined.

  1. 3M Co.
  2. General Electric Co.
  3. Johnson & Johnson
  4. Dell Inc.
  5. Liz Claiborne Inc.
  6. IBM Corp.
  7. Procter & Gamble Co.
  8. General Mills Inc.
  9. Medtronic Inc.
  10. American Express Co.
  11. Capital One Financial Corp.
  12. Whirlpool Corp.
  13. Colgate-Palmolive Co.
  14. Pitney Bowes Inc.
  15. Pfizer Inc.
  16. FedEx Corp.
  17. Washington Group International Inc.
  18. The Home Depot Inc.
  19. Avery Dennison Corp.
  20. Sonoco Products Co.
For example, all of the Top 20 companies focus on developing leaders and have CEOs who are actively involved in the process. Less than 60% of the other companies focus on leadership development and 65% of their CEOs participate in the process.

"[The Top 20 firms] understand that programs such as executive education, assignment-based development and mentoring are all good, but the only way they truly work is if senior leadership is involved in and accountable for the success of these initiatives," says Marc Effron, a global practice leader at Lincolnshire, Ill.-based Hewitt Associates.

Among other highlights, 95% of the Top 20 firms have CEO succession plans versus 60% of the other companies, and 85% have an emergency succession plan versus 59% of the rest. And 83% of the Top 20 companies earmark at least 6% of their senior executives' incentive pay toward leadership development, compared with 51% of the other companies.

The Top 20 were selected using a three-stage process that included reviewing survey responses, in-depth interviews and analysis of financial performance. An independent panel of judges reviewed the results and made the final selections.

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