Monday, November 26, 2007

Leadership Development

My work in coaching overachievers actually grew out of my work as a Strategic Planner at a Global 500 company where I became incredibly interested in the subjects of employee engagement, corporate culture, and leadership. I still enjoy reading about companies that get it right.

A recent Fortune article "How Top Companies Breed Stars," discusses how top companies are becoming increasingly focused on building top talent through leadership development. It's a great article and worth reading it in it's entirety. Here are some excerpts (emphases added):
Of the many powerful forces driving companies to develop leaders more effectively, the most important is the world economy's long-term shift from dependence on financial capital toward human capital.

Hewitt global-practice leader Robert Gandossy, who oversaw the Top Companies for Leaders study, says, "Organizations need talented people a lot more than talented people need organizations."

It's interesting that when you think of a CEO, the image you have is of someone making decisions, negotiating, running meetings, and keeping the place going. In reality, it looks like some of the best leaders are the ones who are investing in the development of the executives around them.
You don't build leaders on the cheap, and you don't just bolt a development program onto existing HR procedures. Indeed, the biggest investment involved may be the time of the CEO and other executives. At McDonald's, CEO Jim Skinner personally reviews the development of the company's top 200 managers. At GE, Immelt reviews the top 600. Bill Hawkins of Medtronic spends 50% of his time on people issues, and many of the other CEOs report similar percentages - making it the largest commitment of time they have.
It seems like it has become evident that learning leadership is a very hands-on endeavor (note the importance of mentoring and coaching):
John Lechleiter, president and COO of Eli Lilly, offers a typical model: About two-thirds of leadership development comes from job experience, about one-third from mentoring and coaching, and a smidgen from classroom training.
These executives also place high value on difficult times to learn many of their valuable lessons. Seems like it's true just as much in life as it is in business...
Executives consistently report that their hardest experiences were the most helpful. P&G chief A.G. Lafley was in charge of the company's Asian operations during a major Japanese earthquake and the Asian economic collapse. That's when he discovered, he says, that "you learn ten times more in a crisis than during normal times."
It's no surprise that GE is #1 on the list of the Top Companies for Leaders in 2007. I'd love to model my future leadership workshops on what they're teaching in Crotonville, NY!

  • Do you think your organization is attentive enough to your development as an employee? Please comment...

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