Survey Names Top 20 Leadership Development Firms

April 20, 2005 ( - One thing distinguished the 20 firms that made it to the Top 20 Companies for Leaders competition: a more organized and rigorous succession process for selecting future executives.

The selection process, sponsored by Hewitt Associates and The Human Resource Planning Society (HRPS), found that all of the top firms focus on developing leaders and have CEOs who are actively involved in this process, according to a news release.

Even more revealing, 85% of the Top 20 Companies hold their leaders accountable for developing their direct reports, compared to less than half (46%) of other companies. The top firms put a greater percentage of their senior executives’ annual incentive pay at risk to motivate them to develop future leaders, according to the announcement. In fact, 53% of the Top 20 Companies earmark between 6% and 15% of incentive pay toward leadership development and a third allocate 16% or higher. Conversely, 34% of all other companies dedicate between 6% and 15%, while just 17% dedicate 16% or more in incentive pay.

Some 95% of Top 20 Companies saying their initiatives attract quality leaders to their organizations, compared to 59% of the other organizations.

Other survey highlights include:

  • some 85% of Top 20 Companies hired their current CEO from the inside versus 68% of the rest.
  • the majority (85%) of the Top 20 Companies believe they are effective at utilizing compensation to reward high-potential employees, compared to 38% of other companies.
  • nearly all (95%) of the Top 20 Companies say that diversity is a formal part of their leadership development strategy versus 59% of the rest.

The search process was based on 373 US. organizations with an average revenue of approximately $8.3 billion and an average employee size of nearly 30,000. Hewitt utilized a three-step screening process to identify the finalist companies. This included reviewing survey responses, conducting in-depth interviews and analyzing financial performance in relation to industry. This information was then provided to the panel of judges.

The Winners

The top firms include:

  1. 3M Company
  2. General Electric Company
  3. Johnson & Johnson
  4. Dell Inc.
  5. Liz Claiborne, Inc.
  6. IBM
  7. The Procter & Gamble Company
  8. General Mills, Inc.
  9. Medtronic, Inc.
  10. American Express Company
  11. Capital One Financial Corporation
  12. Whirlpool Corporation
  13. Colgate-Palmolive Company
  14. Pitney Bowes Inc.
  15. Pfizer Inc.
  16. FedEx Corporation
  17. Washington Group International, Inc.
  18. The Home Depot, Inc.
  19. Avery Dennison Corporation
  20. Sonoco Products Company