Microsoft is the highest ranked technology company in a study that recognises the top 20 best companies for leadership in the world.
The Hay Group study recognises organisations that have the best leadership practices, and the running theme of this year's winners was that they were able to demonstrate their ability to focus on operational excellence — delivering the products and services of today — and innovation — building their future success, at the same time.
In second place behind front runner Proctor & Gamble, Microsoft was one of nine IT and telecoms companies that featured in the global list compiled by Hay Group.
"Our big winner this year is Microsoft, which has stormed into the number two position," said Hay group.
"Microsoft dropped out of the Best Companies for Leadership global top 20 altogether in 2007. It returned three years later at number 12 and has been moving up the ranking since."
The other IT and telecoms companies in the global list were IBM (6th), Telefonica (9th), Facebook (10th), Intel (11th), Samsung (12th), 3M (13th), Siemens (15th) and Oracle (16th).
According to Hay Group's regional director, Europe, leadership and talent, Georg Vielmetter, Germany was particularly well represented this year with four companies in the European top 10, namely Siemens, SAP, Daimler and Volkswagen.
"We've also seen a growing recognition that leadership and leadership development will be critical for steering the region's businesses out of the economic difficulties that have beset the region.
"Our results show that senior leaders in 65 percent of Europe's 'best companies' personally spend time developing others — almost 20 percent more than the European peer group, and a 13 percent increase on last year," said Vielmetter.
Meanwhile, the top European companies also viewed innovation differently compared with the top global companies. European companies focused on continuous improvement of existing products and services rather than making comprehensive breakthroughs.
Vielmetter said: "Fifty-seven percent of top 10 European companies say that this will be central to growth over the next five years, versus 43 percent of the global top 20.
"This is in contrast to Europe's global peers, which model a more disruptive approach to innovation. For 46 percent of the global top 20 'best companies', finding new, different ways to go to market, will be a priority over the next five years, whereas only 22 percent of the European top 10 agree."
Hay Group surveyed more than 18,000 individuals in 2,200 organisations, asking them to rate their own companies' leadership practices and to nominate three global firms they most admired in terms of leadership.
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