Coker Connection Newsletter
Identifying and Retaining Leadership Talent
- July 1, 2016
In the current competitive talent market, the financial burden of lost leadership can reach into the millions, depending on the organization and lost position, but the costs can be even higher as it affects the team morale, operations, and future strategy. Thoughtful selection and the development and retention of individuals in leadership roles is essential to the overall success of the organization. This article will describe essential characteristics of quality leaders.
Today’s business leaders in every industry find themselves in a sobering state of affairs due to a leadership deficit. The complex tasks related to managing the global enterprise are creating significant needs for effective leadership.However, according to a recent survey of 200 companies,only 17% of executives were satisfied with their organization’s capacity to identify individuals with the talent to move the company forward. Another study from 2011 found that 50% of managers who are identified fail. Nevertheless, organizations continue to search and spend large amounts of resources to identify and retain the leaders they desperately need. Here are a few of the many reasons for this state of affairs.
- Executives are too busy to focus on talent
- Recruitment is not fully integrated into the business
- Effective leadership is not well defined
So, what can an organization do when faced with this situation? There are three essential pillars of development that all organizations must consider in talent searches and retention initiatives.
Knowledge and Skill Set
First, ask the question, “Does the individual have the knowledge and skills necessary to lead?” While it is important to identify the content-based skills and technical expertise, it is just as important to determine the individual’s capacity to influence others, such as leading teams and managing complex tasks.
The second question is, “What practical experience does the individual have in putting these skills to use? Has the individual been effective in a variety of contexts that reflect cultural diversity and different types of business settings? Examine the individual’s prior history of taking risks and the capacity and willingness to stretch professionally. These examples signal their sense of curiosity, courage, and willingness for creativity and innovation.
Predicting Future Performance
Even though the individual’s knowledge, skill set, and professional experience are typically documented on the individual’s resume, reviewed by the search team, and discussed through lengthy interviews, it is often tough to determine their ability to perform in the future. Therefore, it is essential to go behind the scenes and develop a clear understanding of what makes the individual tick. This estimation can be accomplished by administering a set of diagnostic assessments to determine the individual’s leadership, communication and behavioral styles, emotional well-being, and their learning agility. Learning agility, which is an individual’s desire and ability to learn concepts and skills, as well as their adaptability to new contexts, recently has been recognized as a key to effective leadership and is essential to the overall success of the organization.
It is important to have a clear understanding of who this leader is in terms of his or her capabilities and potential before making the decision to hire, develop, or retain him or her. Skills, experience, and exposure alone are not sufficient. It is also essential to understand the personality makeup and how the individual would operate in the culture or environment as a leader. Does he or she have the internal drive and motivation for learning? Can the candidate admit what he or she doesn’t know and show humility in front of the staff? Is the individual able to be reflective? All of these questions are fundamental for those who engage and lead with a learning mindset.
In summary, the cost of losing key talent is high and can reach into the millions, depending on the organization and lost position. In addition to the financial burden lost leadership imposes, the cost is even higher as it affects the team morale, operations, and future strategy.Therefore, thoughtful selection,as well as the development and retention of individuals in leadership roles is essential to the overall success of the organization.
- Len Karakowsky and Igor Kotlyar. “Do ‘high-potential’ Leadership Programs Really Work?” The Globe and Mail. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/careers/management/do-high-potential-leadership-programs-really-work/article4248330/. Accessed May 27, 2016.
- Joyce Hogan, Robert Hogan, and Robert B. Kaiser. Management Derailment. APA Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology. In S. Zedeck (Ed.), Vol. 3, 555-575. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.