When it comes to developing bench strength in business leaders across an organization, no company does it better than IBM, according to a special report released this week by Chief Executive Magazine, in conjunction with data gathered by Hewitt Associates. The ranking is the first to comprehensively examine the factors that allow select companies to build great leadership depth.

"Leadership development has become recognized as a critical business tool that has a direct impact on a company's bottom line and future growth," said Marc Effron, practice leader, Leadership Consulting Services at Hewitt Associates. "Clearly IBM is using the right tools, the right way, throughout its organization."

"Developing individuals to lead IBM now and for the future is one of our most important corporate responsibilities," said Randy MacDonald, IBM's senior vice president of human resources. "IBM's top spot in this first-of-a-kind ranking confirms our commitment to give all of our employees the opportunity to develop and contribute at the highest level possible."

The top five companies in the report, in rank order, are IBM, Microsoft, General Electric, The Home Depot and Dell Computer.

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