Nov 12, 2012 • By

Behind the rankings: Leadership Excellence magazine

General Mills recently landed the top spot on Leadership Excellence magazine’s list of the best leadership development programs in the U.S. for the second year in a row.

I caught up with the editor of Leadership Excellence magazine, Ken Shelton, to learn more about the rankings, trends in the field, and why he believes General Mills earned the top spot.

Why do you compile this annual list of the top leadership development programs in the U.S.?

Shelton: For 30 years, we’ve published magazines about personal, professional and leadership development (LD). Seven years ago, we started the ranking in Leadership Excellence to encourage improvement and progress in LD programs, processes and practices.

Has the challenging economic environment over the past several years impacted leadership development programs in the U.S.? How so?

Shelton: LD programs have been surprisingly resilient to budget cutbacks, as more CEOs and even CFOs see the ROI on them.

Why does a commitment to leadership development programming matter? How does it relate to a company’s business success?

Shelton: Commitment to LD equates to a commitment to sustainable success. Some of the best LD happens in small companies without formal programs or financial investment but with much mentoring and modeling – and challenging assignments.

Name one interesting leadership development practice that you’ve seen bubble up in the past few years. Describe why you think it’s valuable.

Shelton: Strategic Mobility, meaning regional, national and global assignments aimed at stretching and challenging high potential managers and leaders, resulting in broader perspectives and richer marketing networks. Another up and coming practice is Experiential Learning, which has become a key component in the best LD programs.

In your opinion, why has General Mills earned the No. 1 ranking again this year?

Shelton: General Mills has an amazing portfolio of LD options and opportunities, and they are all linked to the business purpose. All that is done in the name of LD contributes directly and indirectly to business results, usually within three years, making the ROI measurable and meaningful.

Moreover, General Mills sends a message: We care about you as a person. You matter to us for who you are as well as for what you contribute to the company. Over time, you have created a culture of development, which is very different than just a program. Good people tend to stay in such cultures.