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Growing Leaders

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CASE APPLICATION: LEADERSHIP

Growing Leaders
How important are excellent leaders to organizations? If you were to ask 3M CEO George Buckley, he’d say extremely important. But he’d also say that excellent leaders don’t just pop up out of nowhere. A company has to cultivate leaders who have the skills and abilities to help it survive and thrive. And like a successful baseball team with strong performance statistics that has a player development plan in place, 3M has its own farm system. Except its farm system is designed to develop company leaders. 3M’s leadership development program is so effective that in 2010 it was number three on the list of BusinessWeek’s “Top 20 Companies for Leadership” and in 2009, Chief Executive magazine and Hay Consulting Group named the company the best at developing future leaders. What is 3M’s leadership program all about? About 8 years ago, the company’s former CEO (Jim McNerney, who is now Boeing’s CEO) and his top team spent 18 months developing a new leadership model for the company. After numerous brainstorming sessions and much heated debate, the group finally agreed on six “leadership attributes” that they believed were essential for the company to become skilled at executing strategy and being accountable. Those six attributes included the ability to “chart the course; energize and inspire others; demonstrate ethics, integrity, and compliance; deliver results; raise the bar; and innovate resourcefully.” And now under Buckley’s guidance, the company is continuing and reinforcing its pursuit of leadership excellence with these six attributes. When asked about his views on leadership, Buckley said that he believes leaders differ from managers. “A leader is as much about inspiration as anything else. A manager is more about process.” He believes that the key to developing leaders is to focus on those things that can be developed—like strategic thinking. Buckley also believes that leaders should not be promoted up and through...