[from the Hay Group Leader:] While companies are battening down the hatches trying to weather today’s tough economic climate, the best companies for leaders also have their eyes on the long-term.

The 2009 Best Companies for Leaders survey – conducted by Hay Group and published in Chief Executive magazine – identifies the top 20 best-in class companies and gives us an insight into just why these companies are known for great leadership.

Future leaders

The results of the survey show that even faced with today’s tough economic conditions these companies are focused on what their leadership needs will be in the future.

Our research highlights the fact that the best companies are currently:

  • doing almost twice as much as their peers to attract and retain future leaders
  • maintaining a strong pipeline of high potential employees that can be developed into future leaders
  • going far beyond classroom training when it comes to leadership development
  • using developmental opportunities as well as rewards to keep high potentials engaged and ready for the economic recovery.

Preparing for the good times

It is clear then that the best companies for leaders like most organizations, currently, are having to respond to the challenges of the downturn. However they are also keeping an eye to the future. They are already gearing up for the turnaround and investing in the activities they’ll pursue during the recovery. By constantly identifying their future needs and developing leadership talent around them, while at the same time remaining focused on helping their managers create a positive work climate, they are well positioned to take advantage of the economic recovery when it finally arrives.

A climate of success

The research also highlights the fact that the best companies for leaders value managers that excel at execution – the ability to achieve results through others. These leaders keep people focused on the right tasks, while at the same time instilling them with a sense of hope and purpose. Typically they draw on a range of management styles (including authoritative, democratic, coaching, affiliative and pace-setting) during the downturn to keep their people motivated. As a result the climate in these organizations is both positive and empowering. This is important because Hay Group’s on-going research shows that climate accounts for up to 30 per cent of the variance in bottom line results.

Other companies would do well to learn from these strategies so they will be ready for the opportunities that are sure to present themselves when the world economy picks up.

Read more about the Best Companies for Leaders (registration required).