The new awards are out. Chief Executive Magazine has named the top companies that identify and nurture people in their organizations. The ranking goes down three or more levels from the CEO. That means there is a deep investment in leadership development and talent potential for years to come.

Rankings are affected by a company's reputation among its peers as a source for well-rounded high potentials. They have gathered a list of the top public and private companies and it is certainly worth hearing what the leaders of these organizations have to say.

First, I want to give a list of the 5 tips I have gathered from the esteemed leaders of these companies and then add some quotes you can keep near your computer, or on your mirror to remind you of what great looks like. I call these the 5 A's of leadership:

  • Analyze: Look at each situation from all sides. Think systems and get point of view from employees, clients, and just pay attention to the total environment.
  • Allow: Allow feedback, that is. Get off the fence and ask others what is really going on. And then listen and listen some more.
  • Admit: There will always be some missteps and mistakes. Leaders who can own up to the issues stand head and shoulders above the ones who waffle and just talk fluff.
  • Adjust: See everything as an experiment and make the changes, large and small, until you get it right.
  • Adopt: Make the new behavior patterns a part of the system and help everyone become comfortable with the new.

All the leaders I have researched are those who are able to do the above five A's over and over. Once you get to the fifth A it is usually time to go back and once again analyze, then allow, and get it!

Now here are some great quotes from esteemed leaders of the best companies out there.

  • Analyze: Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric: "I'd be lying if I didn't say there were days when I went back and said 'I wish I'd done this. I should have done that. I handled this the wrong way. But it's always in the motivation of getting better."
  • Allow: John Lundgren, CEO of Stanley Black & Decker: "I spend as much time as possible with our early career, high potential associates to ensure that they are being given appropriate opportunities to develop their leadership skills and I always learn something in the process."
  • Admit: Michael Dell, CEO of Dell: "Recognize that there will be failures and acknowledge that there will be obstacles. But you will learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others, for there is very little leaning in success."
  • Adjust: Christopher Loos CEO of Hilti: We have a healthy sense of paranoia when we meet to go over what we are doing. We spend twenty per cent acknowledging success and eighty per cent focusing on what can be improved. Life is easier when focusing on success--however, the need is to always look at how we can have better and different services."
  • Adopt: Virginia Rometty, CEO of IBM: "The only way you can survive us to continuously transform into something else. It's this idea of continuous transformation that make you an innovative company."

These are time tested high level professionals who can guide you to next levels of excellence just by paying attention to what they have learned along the way. It is amazing how much you can learn and change by putting their quotes in your head. I call these type of quotes "bumper stickers for the brain." Enjoy them.