3M practices leadership development through assignment rotation; but, consistent with the study’s findings of other top-rated companies, it takes the approach that executives stay in a job for about four years in order to experience failure (the best teacher) and sustained success. Other companies often move people around every year or so, which yields a limited return on the development investment. 3M also focuses on leaders two to four levels below the CEO to develop and transition them into new roles. The company projects its commitment to leadership development on its website: “The premise is simple: If your people grow, your company will grow. The key: linking growth in individuals to those things that unlock energy and activities that our customers value.
Leadership development remains at the top of the company’s agenda.” 3M CEO George Buckley spends over a fifth of his time on talent issues and teaches strategy and leadership to executives who meet twice a year. He also reviews what personal experiences executives need to improve their learning and advance their career. He says he prefers surrounding himself and the organization with people more capable than himself. Courage and a strong sense of ethics will take a manager far, he believes, along with the ability to focus and separate opportunity from peril. The board has been working on a succession plan with Buckley for well over a year in anticipation of his retirement in February 2012.
A survey of 300+ CEOs conducted in early May shows declining confidence in business conditions, even as economy reopens in many parts of the country and around the world. But there could be a silver lining.