Close this search box.
Close this search box.

40 Best Companies for Leaders 2013

Here is the full list of the 40 Best Companies for Leaders. This is a group was chosen by Chief Executive and Chally Group Worldwide out of a group of more than 1000 companies.
2013 Best Companies for Leaders

List of 40 Best Companies for Leaders
Researching The Rankings

Warren Bennis once observed that whether or not leadership is well understood, its impact on performance is dramatic and unmistakable. An Accenture study several years ago noted that the share price of companies perceived as being well led grew 900 percent over a 10 year period, compared to just 74 percent growth in companies perceived to lack good leadership. Bennis points to Fortune’s roundup of most admired companies, quoting Fortune’s Thomas Stewart: “The truth is that no one factor makes a company admirable; but if you were forced to pick the one that makes the most difference, you’d pick leadership.”

Since 2005, Chief Executive has sought to identify the top global companies that seek to develop talent—beyond the CEO’s direct reports—with the view that every CEO, regardless of the size of the company he or she leads, can learn to be a better nurturer of talent and builder of teams. Few firms have the budget for a Crotonville, GE’s storied management retreat or Clay Street, P&G’s converted brewery in Cincinnati that former CEO A.G. Lafley once described as a combination think tank and playground. But the methods and principles of the companies ranked here can be scaled and applied to any firm wishing to hone a differentiator that will boost performance. Note also that we list the top ten private companies, most of which are much smaller than the global ones in the top publicly traded list.

Returning to first place is P&G, a company now celebrating its 175th year. Bob McDonald, its CEO attributes its longevity to close attention to leadership development at all levels of the company—not just the top ranks. “To tap the full potential of our employees, we have developed a rigorous and disciplined approach to leadership development at every level of the company,” says the former West Point graduate who favors a rigorous development process. “We systemically build multiple generations of leaders by developing them throughout their careers with varying experiences across businesses and geographies. This has created a very strong pipeline of globally capable and mobile leaders.” GE moved into second place from third last year with IBM following right behind. Dow Chemical jumped from 11th in 2012 to 4th and is followed by Verizon, up from 13th place last year.

Researching the Ranking

The annual ranking of the Top Companies for Leadership is based on a survey of leading organizations globally, which is conducted in partnership with Chally Group Worldwide (, a sales and leadership talent management firm headquartered in Dayton, Ohio. Of the companies surveyed,

  • 84 percent have headquarters in North America
  • 57 percent have international operations
  • The majority of industries represented included Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services (21 percent); Manufacturing (19 percent); and Finance, Insurance, Real Estate (14 percent).

Companies were scored on five key criteria:

  1. Having a formal leadership process in place
  2. The commitment level of the CEO to the leadership development program, as measured by the percent of personal time spent in these activities
  3. The depth of the leadership funnel as measured by the percentage of senior management positions filled by internal candidates, as well as the percentage of middle-management positions filled by internal candidates
  4. The number of other companies that report recruiting from the company being evaluated
  5. A shareholder value performance metric based on 10-year growth or decline in market capitalization.

The final top-40 ranking consists of public companies with more than $1 billion dollars in revenue. The top 10 on the list scored within few points of one another, but the difference between the bottom and top company was substantial, at 29 points.

Rankings are affected by a company’s reputation among its peers as a source for well-rounded talent. Verizon moved up on this year’s listing because of the number of times it was cited as a company from which others recruit. The percentage of senior management recruited from internal talent pools is another criterion. This accounts for Hitachi’s and Monsanto’s rising in the rankings. Similar to 2012, some attrition among last year’s winners accounts for why previous winners did not appear on the 2013 listing.

Because it would be inappropriate to compare private companies with larger, public companies that enjoy greater resources, we list separately the ranking of large, private organizations with in-depth leadership development programs. The following pages offer a look at the top-five companies on this year’s list, highlighting some of the reasons they secured their top positions.

40 Best Companies for Leaders

2013 (rank previous year)




Robert McDonald




General Electric

Jeffrey Immelt





Virginia Rometty


General Electric


Dow Chemical

Andrew Liveris




Verizon Communications

Lowell McAdam


Southwest Airlines



Douglas Oberhelman




Hitachi Data Systems

Jack Domme




Arthur J Gallagher

J. Patrick Gallagher

Cardinal Health


The Boeing Company

W. James McNerney, Jr.


Caterpillar‚ Inc.



Inge Thulin


Discovery Communications



Hugh Grant


The Dow Chemical Company



Indra Nooyi


The Boeing Company


Royal Caribbean Cruises

Richard Fain

Verizon Communications


The Cooper Companies

Robert Weiss


CRH plc


General Mills

Kendall Powell


General Mills


Sprint Nextel

Daniel Hesse

Hitachi Data Systems


Bridgestone Americas

Gary Garfield

International Paper


McDonald’s Corporation

Donald Thompson





Carlos Rodriguez




Shoppers Drug Mart Corp.

Domenic Pilla

Stanley Black & Decker



Patrick Thomas

The Cooper Companies


Barnes Group

Gregory Milzcik


Sealed Air


NOVA Chemicals

Randy Woelfel

El Paso Corporation


Bristow Group

William Chiles

National Australia Bank Limited


Cardinal Health

George Barrett


David Jones Limited


BP China

Robert Dudley



Dimension Data

Brett Dawson

Wolverine World Wide‚ Inc.



Douglas Baker, Jr.



Johnson Matthey

Neil Carson

Unilever Plc



Pekka Lundmark


Barnes Group Inc.


Olympic Steel

Michael Siegal

Aggreko plc


Philips, N.V.

Frans vanHouten





Jan Carlson




Mark Hoplamazian

DuPont Canada


EMC Insurance Companies

Bruce Kelley

Philips‚ N.V.


Harman International Industries

Dinesh Paliwal

Saudi Basic Industries Corporation


Maxim Integrated

Tunc Doluca

American Axle & Manufacturing



Stephanie Streeter




Peter Farrell

Faurecia Holdings‚ Inc.


Kelly Services

Carl Camden


Leadership Development ROI

The need to develop leaders is widely acknowledged, but the actual impact of these efforts is seldom quantified. Without meaningful expectation of a long-term return, it is more difficult to justify the investment—especially in trying economic periods. As with previous years, almost two-thirds of responding companies listed “financial limitations” as one of the top challenges to achieving their leadership-development goals.
Comparing the long-term growth in market capitalization of public companies with their ratings for leadership development offers solid justification for investment in developing leaders. The comparison covered the 10 years from 2002 to 2012, a period long enough to minimize short-term and situational fluctuations. The trend is substantial (see table below).
This year’s improved economy has driven greater growth potential than last year. Last year, the bottom 15 percent of the best companies for leaders had actually 23 percent loss of market capitalization. This year, both top- and bottom-rated companies grew, but the top leadership companies still produced significantly greater growth than the lowest as measured by market capitalization.

Reputational Leaders

Survey participants were asked to list the three companies they would recruit from when there are insufficient internal candidates for openings in their organizations. The reputational stars for leadership development are still limited to a few at the top of their game. Here are the top target companies and some of the reasons behind their status as perceived by respondents.

Company Most Cited Leadership Strengths
GE Disciplined approach to leadership development. Emphasis on cross-functional training. Comprehensive processes for assessment and feedback.
P&G Strong training ground for GM bench. Variety of consumer goods and products. Global in scope and very process focused.
IBM Technology and business solutions leader with excellent reputation for developing leaders, reinventing the business model profitably and sharing success with global communities.

Top 5 Best Companies for Leaders

#1 – P&G – Tackling Turnover

P&G again tops the list as the Best Company for Leaders. P&G stands atop an impressive list of companies well-known for their leadership development.

“I continue to be personally involved in all leadership decisions for our top P&G leaders,” says McDonald. In addition to our organization strategy reviews with our business leaders and function officers, I’m working with our next generation leaders, including those deeper in the organization, to help them grow and develop. I spend a significant portion of my time recruiting, teaching and coaching. Successful leadership development for a build-from-within company is a strategic imperative and a responsibility that I take very seriously for P&G’s current and future success.”

P&G feels their biggest challenge is the loss of an employee they have with whom they have made a significant investment. Because they have such a deep talent bench and are well-known broadly as an engine of leadership development, this often attracts other companies and executive recruiters who recruit their best talent. While their retention is very strong, even the loss of one person in a key market can be a setback in terms of the investment put into their training and development over 10, 15 or 20 years. P&G is committed to build from within, and seldom goes out to hire experienced talent unless there are unique qualifications required.

P&G screens over a half million candidates globally each year and hires less than 1 percent of applicants. They challenge these new leaders with meaningful work and great responsibility from Day One. Business and functional leaders actively recruit, teach and coach and they mentor more junior employees on-the-job, helping them to develop the skills they need to lead large, global businesses and organizations. P&G managers play a vital role in identifying and growing the company’s next generation of leaders. This starts at the top of the organization. Their CEO, vice chairs, presidents and functional officers recruit on college campuses and teach in their executive education programs.

They manage P&G talent globally—starting at mid-levels of management and higher—to facilitate career development and growth across businesses and geographies. They identify top talent early and groom people through a series of varied and enriching assignments that will prepare them for future roles—developing an extremely broad, deep pool of talented employees. Senior management assignments are planned monthly among the chief executive and vice chairs, quarterly with the presidents, and annually with the board of directors, who are all personally involved in the development of their top leaders. This planning ensures depth and breadth of experience. P&G leverages the scale of their unique organization structure, allowing employees to learn and grow from progressively broader and more challenging roles. This approach often occurs across functional disciplines, where leaders get experience in every facet of the business—often in wide-ranging geographies and markets. They focus on sustained results and the continuous capability improvement of leaders over time, with their most significant development occurring through on-the-job experience, feedback and coaching. 95 percent of hires are recruited from college campuses and begin their careers at P&G in entry-level roles. The remaining 5 percent come in at lower to mid-levels of management. The vast majority of recruiting efforts are focused on sourcing candidates from universities around the world.”

#2 – GE Rank: Continuous Adaptation

GE was cited the most times as the company from which others recruit talent. They have vigorous tools to support leadership-development activities, ranging from early career leadership-development programs and accelerators to on-the-job mentoring and stretch assignments to training through their Global Leadership Curriculum offerings, all supported by a robust talent management process. Developing leaders is integral to their company culture and long-term success.

GE has many well-established, formal processes for developing leaders, including annual talent-management programs, succession planning and training. However, because the world in which they operate is always evolving, they continuously adapt the way they develop leaders. Two recently developed programs are the Leader in Residence (LIR) Program and Leadership Explorations. They believe in leaders developing other leaders, which is why they launched the (LIR) Program in 2010. This innovative program was created to involve senior leaders in the development of younger, emerging leaders and to provide both groups with opportunities for continued growth.

During the week-long LIR Program, an officer of the company steps out of his or her regular job and teaches at Crotonville (their leadership institute located in Ossining, New York). This senior leader teaches classes (utilizing tele-presence to connect with their learning centers around the world). He or she also conducts mini-coaching sessions with program participants, networking dinners, fireside chats and reverse mentoring on technology and trends. They also share leadership stories through dialogues—both inside and outside of the classroom. During the week, the Leader In Residence also has the opportunity to reflect on his or her own leadership style.

GE established the quintessential executive-training ground at its world-famous Crotonville facility—on which it reportedly spends about $1 billion a year. General Electric’s John F. Welch Leadership Development Center marks its 56th anniversary this year. They have 13 offerings involving leadership skills that everybody should have, such as presentation skills, project management skills and understanding finance in a generic way.

These courses are managed through the Crotonville staff but are delivered at GE businesses around the world, including Shanghai, Munich and Bangalore, among other places. This is done through a Train-the-Trainer (TTT) concept. GE trains 50,000-60,000 people a year digitally and an additional 9,000 attend courses at Crotonville.

#3 – IBM Rank: Accelerating Growth

IBM has a long history of innovative leadership development and cross-discipline mentoring. IBM values people who apply innovation and imagination to make the world a better place. This is why they feel they need extraordinary leaders who can create high-performance work climates and foster employee engagement—people who not only succeed but enable others to do so, as well. At the core of the GM leadership development program is the ability to accelerate future leaders’ readiness to become integral parts of IBM. Throughout the program, in addition to formal world-class consulting and sales training, participants will be afforded key opportunities to develop and demonstrate the following leadership competencies:

  1. Embrace Challenge: IBM gets energized by complex and challenging situations. They identify opportunities, take responsibility for solving problems and their positive attitude and confidence inspires others to do the same.
  2. Build Mutual Trust: IBM builds “360 degrees of trust” across the full spectrum of their constituents—their organizations, clients and communities. They do this by acting with integrity, assuming positive intent, holding themselves accountable, trusting in the capabilities of others and by taking responsibility for remedying the situation if they see trust is eroding.
  3. Communicate for Impact: IBM communicates to find mutual understanding. They listen to ensure others are heard, their deep expertise allows them to communicate complex situations clearly and simply and their authenticity enables them to convey difficult messages in a positive manner.

The programs include: Basic Blue for IBM Leaders, Shades of Blue and Accelerate Executive Leaders program for new executives and Executive Insights for newly hired or acquired executives. These are among the many examples that involve deeply integrated programs for identifying, assessing and developing some 60,000 high-potential leaders at all levels.

The planning process first defines all roles across IBM and creates “Success Profiles” for all leadership roles. This system is used to define demand for leadership roles by business unit or market and to identify critical gap roles (requiring accelerated development and recruitment). The second process focuses on pipeline identification and development. Leadership competencies of those currently in leadership roles are regularly evaluated to assess the leadership potential and functional skills of IBM globally. Guidance on potential career paths and personalized development plans is provided for each IBM leader, tracking progress through the IBM management system, including providing experiences and developmental opportunities.

Placement for each leadership role focuses on defining potential candidates, while considering diversity for each opening. Placement decisions are accomplished through Five-Minute Drills conducted at annual leadership reviews at all levels of the business. This company-wide process moves upward to high visibility Chairman’s Reviews with action follow-ups. At IBM, success has its roots in an adherence to core values, while embracing fast-paced global change. IBM’s succession process has been a major reason it is one of the few firms that has lasted a century. It has one of the most closely watched institutionalized succession plans of any company in the world. This was evidenced by the smooth transition of CEO responsibility to Virginia “Ginny” Rometty from Sam Palmisano. Rometty is the ninth CEO since the company’s founding and its first woman CEO. This was no exception, as Lou Gerstner’s handoff to Palmisano was another good case study on leadership transition.

#4 – Dow Chemical Rank: Crossing Functions

Dow has a long history of cross-functional and cross-business movement within the organization, as well as a focus on international development assignments. Dow offers various rotational programs in a number of disciplines. These programs offer different job assignments that provide diverse experience and opportunities including:

  • Business Services Rotational Program: providing an opportunity to gain exposure and work experience in different types of effort within the Business Services organization.
  • Commercial Development Program: providing an opportunity to participate in a variety of account-management experiences designed to build skills and familiarize employees with the resources available to help them manage Dow’s relationships with their customers.
  • Finance Development Program for Accountants: provides diverse and varied working knowledge of Dow’s Finance organization.
  • Human Resources Rotational Development Program: gives participants insight into the global Dow organization and culture.
  • Finance Leadership Development Program: develops leaders with the skills and experiences needed to excel and to contribute to their global organization.
  • MBA/General Management Program: creates an accelerated path to senior leadership for a few exceptional people, who can bring new ideas and insights to the opportunities and challenges facing Dow.
  • Public Affairs Development Program (PADP): allows participants to develop and enhance communication skills, gain valuable insight into the different communication roles and build networks in the function and across the company.

#5 – Verizon Communications: Customer Credo

Verizon relies on a leadership team that lives their customer first commitment, their credo and core values—Integrity, Respect, Performance Excellence and Accountability—every day. The Verizon team is led by Lowell McAdam, a chairman and CEO who leads by example and serves as a role model for living the Credo every day. He launched a cross-enterprise Credo Recognition Effort to reinforce the behaviors expected of leaders at all levels of the organization. He continues to demonstrate strong personal commitment and engagement in executive-leadership development. In 2012, he was instrumental in the creation of learning experiences for directors and senior leaders in Lean Six Sigma, Shareholder Value and Emerging Technologies programs.

McAdam’s ongoing operations reviews, quarterly earnings broadcasts with employees, annual senior leadership meeting and cross-enterprise strategy retreat also allow him to be a visible leader teaching leaders. Periodically and at minimum twice per year, the CEO meets with business leaders to ensure effective and consistent talent identification, assessment and execution of development plans for top talent. In addition, the board of directors is engaged in a review of top talent, including interaction with top leaders during meetings and retreats, where they are concerned with clear, measureable annual performance agreement and laser-sharp priorities focused on:

  • Well-defined leadership capabilities and expectations
  • Ongoing feedback and coaching from supervisors
  • External professional coaching and a 360-degree survey and feedback process


  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events


    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    Over 70% of Executives Surveyed Agree: Many Strategic Planning Efforts Lack Systematic Approach Tips for Enhancing Your Strategic Planning Process

    Executives expressed frustration with their current strategic planning process. Issues include:

    1. Lack of systematic approach (70%)
    2. Laundry lists without prioritization (68%)
    3. Decisions based on personalities rather than facts and information (65%)


    Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison have put together an afternoon workshop that will provide the tools you need to address these concerns.  They have worked with hundreds of executives to develop a systematic approach that will enable your team to make better decisions during strategic planning.  Steve and Denise will walk you through exercises for prioritizing your lists and steps that will reset and reinvigorate your process.  This will be a hands-on workshop that will enable you to think about your business as you use the tools that are being presented.  If you are ready for a Strategic Planning tune-up, select this workshop in your registration form.  The additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    New York, NY: ​​​Chief Executive's Corporate Citizenship Awards 2017

    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

    2:00 - 5:00 pm

    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.