Monday, August 2, 2010

How top companies breed stars

The world's best companies realize that no matter what business they're in, their real business is building leaders. Here's how the champs do it.

You couldn't be blamed for rolling your eyes when American Express chief Ken Chenault says, "People are our greatest asset." CEOs always say that. They almost never mean it. Most companies maintain their office copiers better than they build the capabilities of their people, especially the ones who are supposed to be future leaders, and for decades they've gotten away with it. But now their world is changing profoundly - and at long last we're going to find out which self-proclaimed people-cherishers actually mean it.

A fast-growing number of CEOs - including Chenault - are demonstrating their sincerity. With Amex (Charts, Fortune 500) at No. 19 on our North American list, he has built an exceptionally rigorous leadership-development program packed with metrics, incentives, goals, values, and calendars (for more about the program and Chenault, see "No Holds Barred").

More broadly, companies that were never especially serious about leadership development are getting serious. Companies that were always good at it are getting better - and finding that the world wants desperately to learn what they know. General Electric (Charts, Fortune 500), No. 1 on our new ranking of the world's Top Companies for Leaders, reports getting five to ten requests each week from companies wanting to benchmark its practices. Click here to read the full article.

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