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Best Companies for Leaders

Peter Drucker was quoted as saying that "the army trains and develops more leaders than do all other institutions together-and with a lower casualty rate." Not to be outdone, some corporations have developed good leadership programs that are the equal of those in the services because they retain an essential principle.

Secrets of ‘Session C’
“One of the secrets to this story,” says Immelt, “is that there are no secrets. We educate people in the right curriculum. We keep the curriculum fresh. We ensure that other people in the company, including those who report to me, also spend time grooming leaders.” Susan Peters, GE’s chief learning officer and head of executive development, attributes the Fairfield, Conn., conglomerate’s success in this field to a powerful internal review process known as “Session C.” The company’s top leadership spends half of every April working full-time on this. Under it, everyone in the company is re – viewed by his or her boss. Reviews cascade up the chain and ultimately to Immelt himself. “Our Session C employee engagement process is highly detailed and takes a lot of personal time,” says Immelt. “We’re always forcing the system to see if we are looking broadly enough two to four levels down, to touch these people to make certain we know who they are and to identify their potential.”

Immelt adds that in addition to reviews, the company uses thought leadership- courses such as business in India, organic growth and ecoimagination at its Croton Ville facility-to attract and enrich able minds from within.

Dick Antoine, global HR officer for Procter & Gamble, says the global consumer products company measures every employee against nine factors, such as technical competency and the ability to embrace change. “We do 360 [reviews] and use the same nine factors for everyone,” he says. HR owns the system, but line leaders are in charge of the discussion. “Leading from the line is key,” Antoine adds.

A.G. Lafley counts leadership development as not just a priority but one of P&G’s core competencies. “We focus on individual leadership development. How can you personally become the best leader that you can be? In our assessment of effectiveness we talk about situational and inspirational leadership because we want courageous and inspiring leaders. The days of command and control are over,” he says.

In addition to three inspirational leader sessions a year, each of the approximately 140 general managers who run countries and business categories throughout the Cincinnati, Ohio-based multinational attends a week-long college twice a year that Lafley opens on a Sunday night and closes on a Friday afternoon. Each year, the company offers a formal executive leadership program for those tapped to become executive officers of the company. Also, every month Lafley has private half-hour sessions with every one of P&G’s 22 line presidents and functional leaders.

“It’s their agenda,” says Lafley. “It’s a time for me to work with them one-on-one on how they can become more effective leaders. It’s a great way for me to coach their development.” Similarly, Immelt also personally teaches a leadership course, “Things that Leaders Do,” that covers the fundamentals of organic growth. Like Lafley, he conducts a class with 35 people who are in the queue to become officers on the importance of leadership style. “I take each one individually in order to understand the elements-not to have a common style-but how to be true to your own style,” Immelt says.


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