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Setting the standard

McDonald’s manages to remain current and innovative thanks in part to its approach to fostering leadership


 
Setting the standard

MARTIN MEISSNER/AP

AON Hewitt - Best Employers in Canada

Though the most famous burger chain in the world opened its doors 80 years ago, McDonald’s manages to remain current and innovative thanks in part to its approach to fostering leadership. “People could copy everything about us,” says Len Jillard, McDonald’s chief people officer, who joined the company in 1972 at one of its fast-food joints in London, Ont., “but they’d never be able to copy our people and how we make them.”

All employees—even those flipping Big Macs—are asked to draft their own personal career plans. They’re given the opportunity to go through coaching and career planning classes, and are evaluated on their leadership potential. Some are even sent to Hamburger University, an advanced employee training school in Illinois. The company also has a Leadership Institute, an online training community. “Nobody can declare him or herself a great leader,” says Gerard Seijts, a professor at the University of Western Ontario’s Richard Ivey School of Business. “Leaders have to be developed.”

At Chubb Insurance, which also scores well on leadership, it starts with setting the right example. Ellen Moore, the company’s president and CEO, says the key is remaining transparent, holding managers accountable, and listening to suggestions from employees at every level. The Toronto-based company shares its broad business plans with its workers, and consults them in town-hall style meetings that Moore often oversees. “That level of transparency with your staff,” says Moore, “makes them feel there’s a real commitment from leadership.”


 

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