Tag Archives: development

The one with the best leadership development

You can’t make it a week without some list of people or companies being published either in magazines or in blogs about the best this and the best that. Leadership it seems is no different and this month Forbes magazine publishes it’s list of “Top 25 companies for leaders”. So far it’s only a summary from the website (the summary list is below) but to save you time starved peeps the effort I’ve had a read through and have some overarching thoughts to share.

It doesn’t all have to be external – using internal resources to develop your leaders whether that be through workshops or through mentoring is equally if not more valid that using external experts.

Senior commitment – numerous references are made to participation of senior managers, CEO expectations and participation. It seems the best of the best start at the top

Involvement – whether that be of managers in the programme or participants in community or charity work, getting leaders involved in a broader sphere than their function appears highly regarded

Women – several of the participants are noted for special focus paid to women, whether that be mentoring or proportion of leaders that are female

British ain’t best – of the list of 25 only one is British and then actually it’s Anglo-Dutch (tricky to work out i’m sure). Unsuprisingly American based companies do well but next in the list after the US is India.

Internal Succession – a number of mentions are made of those who successfully develop their leaders from within.

Recognition – recognising the effort not just of those being developed but also those who commit to developing them reflects well for several companies

Playing the long game – the realisation that retaining key talent and having them succeed (in both senses of the word) through any organisation takes a longer term view than ‘next appraisal’ is noted for a few of the companies.

So there it is, a summary of a summary… As with any of these lists you have to ask how they were assessed and by whom, what were the inclusion criteria and how much crafting of submission went to be considered and recognise but there are some good ideas in there which I shall present as my own reference when next developing a leadership development strategy.

For those of you who remember (and in some cases adore) ‘Good to Great’ if you read the list of the ‘great’ companies now, some of them have fallen on hard times and some don’t exist and whether that was down to their flawed greatness or paradigm shift in external factors who’s to say but the two questions i’m always left with after reading any of these “best of” lists are these:

  1. If you polled the employees would they agree?
  2. Will the ‘best’ leadership of these organisations mean they continue to be successful?


The Top 25 (in order)

IBM                                        Sends leadership SWAT teams around the world to coach local staff

General Mills                     90% of management promotions are internal

P&G                                       Every single CEO of P&G started at entry level

Aditya Birla                         Honours employees who teach villagers skills like composting

Colgate-Palmolive           The 7 day leadership event for junior employees features a business challenge, presentations by senior management & charity work

Hinudstan Unilever         Sends young managers to live in villages to understand rural consumers

ICICI                                       Assigns talent scouts to identify 2,500 promising employees

McDonalds                         The development programme takes rising stars from central functions and develops them plus exposes them to other cultures

Whirlpool                            A dozen senior execs are “innovation mentors” tasked with evaluating new ideas

Pepsico                                Creates 10 year development plans for individuals with C-Suite potential

GE                                          CEO devotes 40% of his time to leadership development

BBVA                                     Offers theatre workshops to boost managerial communication skills

Natura                                  Every year managers are asked to reaffirm their commitment or leave

Deere                                   CEO personally mentors 20-30 employees as part of their development

3M                                         Over 300 Senior managers teach on leadership programmes customized by country

Eli-Lilly                               Half of variable compensation for managers is assessed against mentoring and leader behaviours

McKinsey                            Job applicants receive coaching between interview rounds

L’Oreal                                  23% of senior managers are women

Unilever                               The top 100 leaders in the business submit development plans to the CEO

Siemens AG                       Each year 10 junior employees are named “stars of the future”

Intel                                       An internal network of executive women mentor female talent

China Vanke                       The company discourages displays of dogmatism by managers

Wipro                                    Over 100 employees have gone on to start their own businesses

Bharti Airtel                        A reverse mentoring programme sees junior employees mentoring senior colleagues about tech

Novartis                               Runs a 2.5 day programme to help managers “understand their core purpose”



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The where its personal not business

So it’s fairly late on Thursday night and following some great conversations this week I have decided to write a post that will probably feel very different to most that precede it.

Tomorrow I am speaking at a conference. It’s the Marcus Evans Strategic Learning & Development conference and I my presentation is entitled “The Paradox of Global Leadership Development” if you are reading this in response to seeing me present I hope you enjoyed it. If you are reading this and not attending the conference I will mostly be telling the grumpy guy with iPad story which you can find here….

I have spoken at a few conferences over the past few years and always feel sick for the first few slides, then the nausea passes and by the time its ending I start to enjoy myself and don’t want to sit down. The significant thing about tomorrow is my billing is “Former Head of Learning & Development”. I am no longer in my role, having handed over to one of my former team who I am sure will take the function on to fabulous things and I am genuinely delighted for her.

My exit was voluntary following a nerve wracking but awesome conversation with my boss some months ago about my ongoing development and challenge for me in my role. We mutually decided that to get the challenge that would develop me moving out of the business was the best move and I have to say it’s all gone swimmingly with one exception…

The term to describe my current state if I were an actor would be resting, on sabbatical if I was an academic and unemployed to most everyone else. My awesome plan was to go leave current role, swan off somewhere warm with ‘herself’ (Barbados was top of the list) return for a few weeks mooching and then get stuck into a new gig – physically and mentally refreshed.

The difficulty I have is threefold. Firstly, whilst I want the challenge of a new role it has to give me more than my previous role and those jobs don’t grow on trees. Secondly, I am not good at not doing anything so want to keep busy and not resort to watching back to back films. The final difficulty is probably the biggest one – the challenge to my identity.

This may sound very odd to some people but my job is a huge part of what drives me generally. One of my tutors at college likened work for adults to play for children in that it gives us intellectual nourishment, structure, purpose and the adult bit – a means to pay the mortgage. For me not having a business card in my wallet is a very strange phenomenon but like most things in life – I’ll cope.

So why write this post?

  1. Because this blog has always been about getting the stuff that’s bouncing around my head into coherent form and this is definitely bouncing around my head.
  2. More and more people know that I am “resting” (why not be an actor, at least for 1 blog post)
  3. Being open about this will help with the ‘no business card in wallet’ thing
  4. Someone I respect told me I was not doing enough to promote the fact that I am on the market
  5. “If you know anyone who’s looking for someone…”

To that 5th point, I am working with some great recruiters and talking to lots of people in my network but a little PR never hurts so should you hear of anyone looking for someone to fill a chunky role in Talent, Learning & Development or Leadership development please point them my way….but maybe point them at my Linkedin rather than my twitter feed 😉

Thank you very much and goodnight


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