A recent article in the Harvard Business Review on the leaders we need now noted that Generation X will produce executives who bring a distinctive sense of realism to the modern corporation as they possess skills and attitudes that are especially suited to today’s challenges which are both new and unpredictable. Traditional leadership skills — setting direction, having the answers, controlling performance, and running a tight ship — are less relevant in an environment of constant change. These days, leadership is about creating a context for innovation and inclusion in the face of ambiguity and the unexpected. And the leaders in Generation X can bring that to your company. But how do you identify them?
The article outlined five traits that tomorrow’s leaders will need to possess to succeed. Keep them in mind when scouting for your future talent:
- Desire to Increase Collaborative Capacity
Whereas baby boomers were “organizational men”, generation X are “networked people” and want to build the strong, trusting, relationships that are essential for mobilizing intelligence.
- Insight to Ask Compelling Questions
Tomorrow’s leaders need to embrace participation in the search for answers.
- Embrace Complexity
Oversimplifying challenges will no longer work — true leaders need to grapple openly with complex issues. Absolutes need to be rejected with the realization that there’s often no “right” answer.
- Focus on Identity
Leaders strive to create a corporate identify that ties everyone together.
- Appreciation of Diversity
In the global marketplace, a company will have to embrace diversity to succeed as each marketplace, and each consumer, is different. An organization will only be able to succeed if it is able to capture and integrate diverse perspectives from diverse individuals.
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It might be a “jobless recovery”, but the talent war is here as firms have to do more with less. Are you ready for it? Or are you making these six common talent management mistakes, as highlighted in a recent Harvard Business Review article on How to Keep Your Top Talent, that will cost your organization your top talent?
- Assuming that High Potentials are Highly Engaged
- 12 in 60 (20%) believe that personal aspirations are not in line with organizational plans
- 15 in 60 (25%) intend to leave your employ within the year
- 20 in 60 (33%) admit to not giving 100%
- 24 in 60 (40%) have little confidence in coworkers and even less confidence in the senior team
Your high potentials have great expectations with respect to
- personal goals,
- corporate goals, and
- the caliber of teammates and leadership.
If the employee’s goals aren’t compatible with organizational goals, if the employee doesn’t believe that her goals can be realized, if the employee doesn’t see the same level of aspiration and commitment from her teammates and leaders, and doesn’t get challenged regularly, she’s probably not going to give 100% and is probably keeping her eyes open for a new opportunity if she’s not actively looking already.
- Equating Current High Performance with Future Potential
While a high performer is driven to maintain performance, chances are you’re expecting high performance in future roles that are more significant and challenging than your employee’s current role. More than 70% of top performers lack critical attributes necessary to succeed in more senior roles. Only a subset of your high performers have future potential, and they will need training to realize it.
- Delegating Down the Management of Top Talent
While it’s true that line managers know their people best, it’s a bad idea to delegate management and training of true high potentials to line managers. These employees are your future and should be treated as a valuable long-term corporate asset. Top talent must be trained and groomed by senior managers if it is to grow into larger, more senior roles, within the organization.
- Shielding Risking Stars from Early Derailment
By being too cautious and too focussed on success, emerging talent is never truly developed and tested. This puts the business at greater risk in the long term as it ends up with a sizeable cadre of middle managers who are unable to shoulder the demands of the company’s most challenging opportunities.
- Expecting Star Employees to Share the Pain
The decision by a senior executive team to freeze or cut salaries and performance based compensation across the board may seem fair, but it erodes the engagement of the star performer. Under normal circumstances, a high potential will put 20% more effort than other employees in the same role — and in sales or cost savings roles, such as strategic sourcing, their contributions will tend to be significantly higher than the average employee. The reality is that, in tough times, it actually costs less to create meaningful differentiation in compensation than to slash across the board and risk losing key employees.
- Failing to Link Star Performers to Corporate Strategy
A star’s confidence in her manager and her insight into the firm’s strategic capabilities is a key factor in her engagement. An organization that goes “radio silent” with respect to strategy runs the risk of alienating a rising star when she is needed most.
So how can you identify and properly manage top talent? Check out the 10 critical components (subscription required) of a talent development program identified by the authors of the HBR article on How to Keep Your Top Talent.
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