Samsung has been named the best company for leadership in Asia by Hay Group, by proving their ability to balance both the ability to explore new territories and achieve business excellence.

Toyota came in second regionally, but it wasn’t the only other Asian powerhouse on the list; Tata and Petronas also featured in the top five, in fourth and fifth place, respectively. Unilever rounded up the top five in third place.

“Companies that simultaneously focus on exploitation and exploration benefit in terms of stronger financial performance compared to those that are adept only at exploration or exploitation,” Andrew How, managing director of Hay Group Singapore, said.

The study identified the best companies for leadership based on the companies’ self-survey score index and peer nominations, adding organisations that made the list were “purposeful and strategic in developing, enabling and motivating leaders throughout the organisation to do their best”.

The companies recognised as Asia’s best for leadership also showed a culture strongly geared towards its people, with those in this region found to be 10 times more likely to provide dedicated support functions such as HR and legal.

Globally, Procter & Gamble toppled General Electric, which has held the title for five of the past seven years, reclaiming the number one spot it last held in 2005.

General Electric fell to third place, just behind Microsoft, which dropped off the rankings in 2007 but has been slowly climbing back up since 2010.

The survey found the world’s top 20 were doing more to develop the population of new and mid-level managers, and also took deliberate steps in developing and rewarding competencies which “enable their organisations to achieve operational excellence today, while driving innovation for tomorrow”.

How said: “The best companies for leadership recognise that many of the skills once required solely for senior leadership roles — high levels of emotional intelligence, commitment to continuous learning, analytical thinking — are now critical at every level of the organisation.”

Best Companies for Leadership – Asia's top 10

1. Samsung 2. Toyota 3. Unilever 4. Tata 5. Petronas 6. General Electric 7. IBM 8. Sony 9. Coca-Cola 10. DHL International

Best Companies for Leadership – Global top 20

1. Procter & Gamble 2. Microsoft 3. General Electric 4. Coca-Cola 5. Unilever 6. IBM 7.Wal-Mart 8. McDonald’s 9. Telefonica 10. Facebook 11. Intel 12. Samsung 13. 3M 14. Nestle 15. Siemens 16. Oracle 17. Citigroup 18. Caterpillar 19. Toyota 20. Ford Motor