PJ Neal

Thoughts from a more-than-occasional writer

How to Grow a CEO: Lessons from CEO Academy Companies [Russell Reynolds Associates]

General Electric builds a lot of things — including leaders.

Since GE’s 1892 founding in Schenectady, New York, almost every single GE CEO has spent all, or virtually all, of his career at the company. As the conglomerate has grown across continents and industries, it has repeatedly been able to develop leaders with diverse skills and experiences, enabling them to lead one of the largest, most complex corporations in the world. That’s even more notable considering that with each CEO transition, the enterprise looked completely different from the way it did when that future executive started his career.

Just as impressive, however, is GE’s ability to create leaders for other organizations. Among the companies listed on the S&P 1500 today, 31 are led by GE alumni, making the company the biggest contributor to that group’s CEOs. This isn’t the result of good luck or happenstance, but a commitment to a set of activities designed to continuously identify and develop tomorrow’s leaders—activities shared by a select group of other high-performing organizations around the world and which are adoptable by other companies who want to improve their own internal pipeline of potential CEO succession candidates.

We call these organizations CEO Academies—and their reach and impact in the marketplace are substantial.

Read the full paper, co-authored with Todd Safferstone, and published by Russell Reynolds Associates.