The Top Companies for Leaders study provides valuable intelligence for Indian organisations looking to improve leadership capabilities and develop a strong talent pipeline.


Strong leadership is more than a competitive advantage. It separates world-class companies from the rest. Today, the need for effective leadership is unprecedented and the rapid pace of economic and business change is requiring new ways of thinking and behaving to achieve success.

India is today at the cusp of becoming a global economic powerhouse. Over the last decade organizations operating in India have achieved high levels of growth. However, as the economy matures and new challenges emerge, many corporates are finding that sustaining success will mean reorienting themselves.

These business challenges are strongly related to the top talent challenges of companies – 'insufficient number of ready-now leaders' and 'lack of diverse talent in leadership positions'. The TCFL 2014 India study reveals that many corporates are using a variety of strategies, practices, and tools to be future ready.

However, we found that top companies focus specifically on the 'how', which helps them address the business and talent challenges better. Our research has also helped us identify six critical factors needed to build strong leadership, which critically distinguish the top companies.



"Any process is only as good as the results it produces"

The companies which top the TCFL India study consistently measure the effectiveness of leadership practices, through metrics such as strength of leadership pipeline, career movements, retention rates of leaders and high potentials, and the extent of talent mobility. Additionally, leaders hold themselves accountable for these outcomes.

All Top Companies hold leaders accountable for strength of leadership pipeline


"Many people are unmotivated, not because they have a great reason to be, but because they have not been given a great reason to be motivated & engaged"

In top companies, leaders drive engagement initiatives and are held accountable for engagement levels in the organization. Besides asking leaders to hold themselves accountable for engagement at an organization level, top companies are equally concerned about the engaging the leaders.

All Top Companies regard the engagement levels of their senior management to be better over their industry / market benchmarks, as compared to 63% other companies


"Diversity is being invited to the party; Inclusion is being asked to dance" – Verna Myers

Winning companies are going beyond focusing on diversity as a target to be achieved. Top companies specifically view diversity from the lens of enabling innovation. Top companies are actively discouraging cloning of leaders, enabling mobility of talent, and making the company leadership mirror or represent the customer perspective. However, most critically, top companies have identified the role of inclusion in ensuring diversity succeeds. They do recruit leaders from outside, but what differentiates them is their ability to make these leaders successful in their set-up.

All Top Companies have a formal strategy to move talent across geographic locations


"The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers." – Ralph Nader

TCFL study winners believe that the primary role of leaders is to identify and nurture even more leaders. Building more leaders is one of the mandates of leaders and this ensures their sustained success. Role of leaders as talent magnets, coaches, and mentors is also deemed paramount. A significant amount of senior leadership time is spent on coaching and mentoring future leaders.

Board of Directors in 57% Top Companies focus on coaching and mentoring of  leaders, and giving developmental feedback, as compared to 25% other companies


"Leaders know the importance of having someone in their lives who will unfailingly and fearlessly tell them the truth" – Warren Bennis

Companies today are working to ensure that leadership assessment is an ongoing process. And for different kinds of individuals and purposes, the methodology of assessments is customized. Companies are focusing critically on values, and ensuring that leadership decisions are based on assessments on values too. This reveals that companies are placing paramount importance on the 'fit' of the individual in the role and in the company.

All Top Companies adopt leadership assessment practices such as 360 degrees assessments, competency based assessments, personality assessments, and leadership style inventories


"When sustainability is viewed as being a matter of survival for your business, you can create massive change." – Cameron Sinclair

Top companies identify organizational outcomes and sustainability as one of the top agendas for leaders. Leaders are significantly responsible for achieving the common organizational goals, in addition to their own business or functional goals. Furthermore, top companies are addressing dependencies and risks to sustainable growth, by involving high potentials in critical organizational

In Top Companies, overall company performance holds a weightage of 50% on a leader's performance scorecard, as compared to 30% in other companies


Our take from the study is that the link between leadership practices and business success is evident in India Inc, just as among global organizations. Leadership development is no longer an informal activity, or merely an HR agenda.

Companies in India are gearing up for their next phase of accelerated growth. And for this, they are working to build leaders, who can help achieve financial results, enable innovation, and sustain growth.

"A few years ago, the key objective of many companies was to prevail over the financial crisis. Contrastingly, the role of leadership in today’s optimistic timeless. It is more than just a competitive advantage. It is a must for any company to be successful. It is this spirit that forms the foundation of Aon Hewitt’s Top Companies for Leaders study"


"Over the years, the TCFL study identified leadership trends and practices at the regional and global platforms. For the first time, in 2014, the TCFL study aimed at identifying leadership best practices further specific to the contexts of organizations, at sub-regional and national platforms. Thus the India edition of the Top Companies for Leaders study was born."

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