Global human resources consulting giant Aon Hewitt recently released its list of the 2014 top companies for leaders. At the top of the list?

1: General Electric

2: IBM

3: Hindustan Unilever Limited

4: General Mills

5: ICICI Bank Ltd.

So what did it take for these top companies to be named to the list? According to Aon Hewitt's global talent practice leader, Pete Sanborn, "This group of organizations sets themselves apart by demonstrating their passion for cultivating resilient and engaged leaders who take the time to know and develop their talent and understand what experiences they need to rise above the rest."

Aon Hewitt's analysis revealed five key characteristics that top companies shared in their leadership approach. How does your company compare?

1. Assessment. You can't have a top company for leaders if you don't assess their leadership potential and periodically check on their progress along the way. To build their leadership capacity, top companies assess the leader thoroughly early in their careers. This includes evaluating leaders' experiences, competencies, values, and organizational fit. According to Aon Hewitt, doing this helps organizations understand the unique needs of their talent pipeline to fuel the right development solutions that move people forward faster.

2. Awareness. Great leaders are very much aware of both their strengths and their weaknesses, and they take actions that leverage their strengths while hiring to fill the gaps. Aon Hewitt found that the top companies have leaders who demonstrate tremendous self-awareness by understanding their personal strengths and weaknesses and using this information to become more effective leaders.

3. Resilience. In today's VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) environment, top companies must build resilience in their leaders. They do this by creating inclusive cultures that expect and foster multiple perspectives and ideas to help the organization meet continued business challenges.

4. Engaging leadership. According to Aon Hewitt, the top companies for leaders focus on identifying and building engaging leaders who are stabilizers, demonstrate versatility, and stay connected to people and events inside and outside their organization. Instead of hoping leaders will have the qualities they want, top companies take action to ensure that they do.

5. Sustainability. Top companies focus on building talent programs that are not only nimble enough to respond quickly to fast-changing market demands, but that are also sustainable, to deliver superior business outcomes over the long run.

Published on: Nov 12, 2014