Survey: Walmart improves spot on Top 20 companies for leadership

Global management consulting firm Hay Group has released its eighth annual Best Companies for Leadership Study and global Top 20 list. Walmart made the list as the seventh best company for leadership in 2013, up from eighth place in 2011/2012 and ninth place in 2010.  

The study surveyed nearly 18,000 individuals at more than 2,200 organizations worldwide to examine how companies develop their leaders and foster cultures of innovation. This year, Procter & Gamble led the Top 20 list followed by Microsoft, General Electric and Coca-Cola. 

According to Hay Group’s study, the Best Companies for Leadership are purposeful and strategic in developing, enabling and motivating leaders throughout the organization to do their best. In fact, 73% of the Top 20 companies reported giving everyone at every level of the organization the opportunity to develop and practice the capabilities needed to lead others, compared to only 47% of all other companies. These future-focused companies also look ahead to what roles are — and will be — mission-critical to their success, and then intentionally identify and develop leaders with the right skills to fill those roles. To facilitate this process, the Top 20 companies reported doing more to develop their population of new and mid-level managers, with higher usage rates of Web-based leadership modules (72% vs. 39% at all other companies), classroom-based leadership training (80% vs. 55%) and mentoring by a senior manager or executive (68% vs. 39%).

“The Best Companies for Leadership recognize that many of the skills once required solely for senior leadership roles — high levels of emotional intelligence, commitment to continuous learning, analytical thinking — are now critical at every level of the organization,” said Ruth Malloy, global managing director of Hay Group's Leadership and Talent practice and co-leader of the Best Companies for Leadership Study. “To excel in today’s highly complex and competitive business environment, the Best Companies are taking deliberate steps to develop and reward these competencies to enable their organizations to achieve operational excellence today, while driving innovation for tomorrow.” 

In fact, 82% of the Best Companies for Leadership use rewards or reprimands that are based on rigorous measurements of performance against goals, compared to only 58% of all other companies. Similarly, 89% of the Top 20 companies encourage employees to set challenging or aggressive goals, versus only 69% of all other companies. 

At the same time, the Best Companies for Leadership foster cultures that encourage innovation; 76% of the Top 20 companies reward and stimulate cross-business-unit collaboration to develop new business lines, compared to only 54% of all other companies. The Top 20 companies are also more likely to encourage employees to learn in areas outside of their areas of expertise (70% vs. 48%) and to recognize and reward employees for really new and different business ideas (77% vs. 58%). 

“It’s becoming harder to create and run profitable businesses in traditional ways,” said Rick Lash, director in Hay Group's Leadership and Talent practice and co-leader of the Best Companies for Leadership Study. “Organizations have to think differently about how they relate to their markets. The Best Companies are adept at anticipating and meeting client needs at multiple points along the consumer spectrum. They’re shifting from selling products and services to becoming integrated business partners that can help their customers solve for pressing needs.”

In fact, 78% of the Top 20 companies reported that their organization encourages employees to spend much time discussing customers’ future needs, compared to only 55% of all other companies. 

Correspondingly, 90% of the Top 20 companies reported that senior leaders communicate that the firm’s survival depends on adapting to evolving market trends, compared to 70% at all other companies. 

“In times of rapid change, many companies lose their focus, failing to adequately engage and enable their current workforces as the organizations shift to achieve short-term or immediate objectives,” added Lash. “Those companies that simultaneously execute on immediate priorities while aligning their employees with a shared sense of purpose, and develop leaders at all levels to contribute and act on innovative ideas, have a better chance at financial success.”

Other major findings from Hay Group’s Best Companies for Leadership Study include:

Hay Group has researched the Best Companies for Leadership since 2005. This year’s survey was based on the organization’s response to an online questionnaire and peer nominations. Respondents who completed the survey were from 125 countries, with 7% from North America, 41.3% from Europe, 1.1% from the Middle East, 14.8% from Asia/Pacific/Africa and 35.7% from Latin America.