Good leadership has many definitions, yet there seems to be one common theme across most of them - they do more than the obvious.

Aon Hewitt's Top Companies for Leaders research found that great leaders are doing six things that differentiate them from the rest.

1. From processes to outcomes: Two-thirds (65%) of the top companies hold their leaders accountable for the promotion rate of high potentials.

Action: If you have an accelerated development programme, make sure it builds a better and deeper pipeline of leaders, whereby faster succession is actually happening.

2. From measuring engagement to developing engaging leaders: Close to all (95%) of the top companies hold their leaders accountable for levels of employee engagement.

Action: Instead of just measuring engagement, focus on building leaders who can better engage with their colleagues – particularly in the light of changing employee expectations.

3. From diversity to inclusion: Half of the top companies (50%) have fully integrated diversity and inclusion goals in the selection and development practices for leaders, compared to just 3% of the rest.

Action: Move away from token diversity scorecards to build true inclusion. Gender, racial, or even diversity of thought are of little use, if culturally diverse views are not respected in the organisation.

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4. From accumulating followers to focusing on leaders developing leaders: Holding leaders accountable for the strength of their leadership pipeline is a best practice in 85% of the top companies, compared to half of the rest.

Action: In place of one strong and powerful leader, your company needs a leadership mindset where leaders connect with their people, and personally mobilise the talent of tomorrow.

5. From assessing skills to aligning for fit: Four in five of the top companies use personality assessments to measure the potential of front-line managers, compared to less than half of other firms.

Action: It is common to see talented people succeeding in one firm and one role, yet failing in another. Go beyond rigorous assessments to achieve the right fit of colleagues to roles and culture.

6. From higher performance to higher purpose: Top companies are three times as likely to offer employees special assignments directly related to their CSR strategy.

Action: A maniacal focus on driving performance might work for some time, but sustaining engagement requires it to be actively built into the way the company communicates goals and targets.

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