Leadership Development at GE: It’s no secret

April 23, 2014 by Wally Bock

Leadership development is something General Electric is known for. For more than a century, they’ve been growing effective leaders inside the company. People want to know the secret.

That prompted a recent post by Raghu Krishnamoorthy, GE’s vice president of executive development and chief learning officer, titled: “The Secret Ingredient in GE’s Talent-Review System.” Here’s the money quote:

“Most companies have a version of the talent-review system we use at GE. But judging from what I hear from managers of companies that visit us to benchmark our system, the difference between our approach and theirs does not lie in forms, rankings, tools, or technologies.”

In other words, the secret is that there is no secret. Here are five things I think make the GE process produce the results everyone envies.

Rigorous Process

GE has a rigorous talent review process. It’s embedded in the annual cadence of company meetings and operations.

Training Plus

Training is important at GE. They’ve invested in a state-of-the-art training facility, lots of training talent, and great materials. But GE understands that training is more than skill development. It’s also the carrier of culture and the cultivator of connections.

Performance and Values

Just about every company evaluates performance. But GE evaluates every leader on how they achieved their results. Values matter, too.

It’s Every Manager’s Job

At GE, every manager is responsible for leadership development work and accountable to his or her boss for the quality of that work. GE’s process can’t work well unless GE’s manager’s put in the time to evaluate and counsel and coach.

Ruthless Discipline

If there’s one key, this is it. GE has a ruthless discipline about the leadership development process. GE managers put in an enormous amount of time and effort. That means even when there are other priorities clamoring for attention. That means sending your high potential manager off to training when you really need him or her.

The secret to GE’s success in leadership development turns out to be no secret at all. It’s lots of hard, focused work.

Wally Bock is a coach, a writer and President of Three Star Leadership.

Posted in Leadership Development

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