The book features 40 Lessons from Leaders – tangible programs and practices that readers can adapt and tailor to their own unique organizations. Following are a few “sneak previews” of some of these best practices from the top firms in the business.

Korn/Ferry Changes Its Vision and Culture

Over the past decade, executive recruiting and talent management firm Korn/Ferry International has undergone a fundamental strategic and cultural shift. In 1999, the firm went public for the second time in its 40-year history in the midst of the technology boom. The firm leaders at the time were looking to diversify and differentiate the business, and used the IPO as a means to fund the transformation. In 2001, the firm recruited Paul Reilly, former CEO of KPMG International, to lead the change. Under Reilly’s guidance, the leadership mapped out a vision and plan to evolve the firm from its flagship search business to a broader talent management practice that supports the “lifecycle of a leader” from acquisition to evolution, development, retention, and compensation.

According to Linda Hyman, Senior Vice President of Global Human Resources, who played a key role in the firm’s evolution, there are several key activities that firms should undertake when considering a major transformation…  

Training at Bain & Company

Bain & Company, one of the world’s leading business and strategy consulting firms, consistently tops the lists of the most coveted places to work. The firm’s training program, ranked number one by Vault.com, is a crucial factor in Bain’s ability to recruit and retain some of the most talented consultants around the globe. “Training is at the core of who we are and what we do at Bain,” says Russ Hagey, Worldwide Chief Talent Officer and 25-year Bain veteran. “It’s one of our core mission-critical investments year-in and year-out.”  

The firm’s talent management philosophy focuses on recruiting very bright, highly motivated, and “fun” people; getting them up to speed quickly through an on-the-job, team-based, apprenticeship model; and supplementing hands-on learning with a formal training, mentoring, and coaching program…

Edelman’s Client Feedback Program

Client service has historically been a top priority at global public relations agency Edelman. In 2001, the firm revitalized its commitment to making quality its number one business goal and appointed Janice Rotchstein as its Chief Quality Officer (CQO) to lead the effort. Under her guidance, the agency’s quality initiative has evolved into an award-winning program called Edelman Excellence (E2), which is aimed at creating a global client service strategy that transcends geographies and cultures. 

Integral to the E2 client quality program is a carefully structured firm-wide system for soliciting and analyzing client feedback gathered at different stages of each client engagement. The cornerstone of this system is its “Right from the Start” meeting—a quality driven approach for launching a new client relationship or reintroducing Edelman’s service team when the client contact changes on an existing account…

Brand Management at Skadden, Arps

“Brand for us is our reputation,” says Eric Friedman, executive partner at Skadden, Arps. The roots of the firm’s brand were established in 1948 when four lawyers—Marshall Skadden, Leslie Arps, John Slate, and Joe Flom—launched their law firm in a tiny suite of offices on Wall Street. They established a reputation as a scrappy and entrepreneurial practice that would tackle the tough assignments—such as hostile corporate takeovers—that the old-line Wall Street firms did not do at the time. Since then, the firm has grown to 2,000 attorneys based in 24 offices around the world and is one of a handful of global law firms posting revenues of more than $2 billion.

The firm continues to embrace the values of its founding fathers and very rigorously manages its brand and reputation in the market. In connection with messaging, Skadden considers four constituencies: current and prospective clients; the internal audience; potential recruits; and the broader legal, business, and social communities. Accordingly, the firm focuses its brand strategy and management on the following…

Annual Planning at Ernst & Young

Annual planning at Ernst & Young is a disciplined and methodical process. According to Mark Gaumond, Americas Senior Vice Chair, Markets, all partners throughout the organization participate. “It’s a very comprehensive process,” says Gaumond, “but it gets everyone to buy into and execute on the goals we set.” There are two components to the planning process that run in parallel each year…