Building a Leadership Brand

Harvard Business Publishing | Aug 01, 2007
By: Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood

Quick: What do the following firms have in common?

General Electric, whose motto is “imagination at work,” is a diversified company with $163 billion in annual revenue. It is famous for developing leaders who are dedicated to turning imaginative ideas into leading products and services. A GE manager can be trusted to be a strong conceptualist as well as a decisive thinker; an inclusive, competent team leader; and a confident expert in his field.

Johnson & Johnson, whose credo begins, “We believe our first responsibility is to the doctors, nurses and patients, to mothers and fathers and all others who use our products and services,” earned $53 billion in revenue last year. It is celebrated for developing leaders who provide scientifically sound, high-quality products and services that help heal and cure disease and improve the quality of life. A J&J manager is known for being socially responsible and a stickler for product development and differentiation. She takes a product to market in a disciplined way; she is committed to building consumer trust, to product quality, and to safety.

“Good help to those in need” is the mission of Bon Secours Health System, a nonprofit health care firm based in Marriottsville, Maryland, that operates a variety of hospitals and nursing care facilities. Consistent with its purpose as a Catholic health care ministry, the 19,000-person organization develops leaders who put a premium on “reflective integration.” That means Bon Secours expects its managers to do more than just run health care units. They must also balance the business of health care with compassion and caring.

Learn about the connection among these firms.