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Strategies to develop your top talent

Archive for the ‘Decision Making’ Category

We have looked before at best practices in developing top talent.

Sometimes, we need to also admit and learn from the mistakes that have cost us the most (and in many cases are still costing us).

In their HBR article, Jean Martin and Conrad Schmidt give us more to ponder about these six mistakes.

Mistake 1: Assuming That High Potentials Are Highly Engaged

Let’s begin by talking truth about your bright stars.  

Why is the picture so negative?  Rising stars are young, talented and usually know it.  Their gigantic personal expectations are matched with lots of alternatives. (more…)
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Keep Your Top Talent

Leadership development programs aimed at rising stars have become a staple of most large organizations.  Here in Shanghai I see this in the people practices of global multinational companies, whether American, European, or Asian.

Most people acknowledge that the top talent is where you can have a great impact on business results, either in a positive or negative way depending on how you manage it.

An article in Harvard Business Review by Jean Martin and Conrad Schmidt shed some interesting light on the topic.
What I have found surprising in my own experience is that despite the effort, money and time being spent, the results are often lackluster, at least initially.  Maybe our expectations timeline is too short.

Here are some ideas about what works and what doesn’t in developing your top talent.  This came from research in more than 100 organizations worldwide over 2005-2011, which clearly has been tumultuous time in the global economy.

10 Critical Components of a Talent-Development Program

1. Explicitly test candidates in three dimensions: ability, engagement, and aspiration.

2. Emphasize future competencies needed (derived from corporate-level growth plans) more heavily than current performance when you’re choosing employees for development.

3. Manage the quantity and quality of high potentials at the corporate level, as a portfolio of scarce growth assets. (more…)

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Three dimensional leadership

When people describe leadership they often use contrasting concepts:  either command and control, or servant leaders.  Others contrast hard-edge management by the numbers with a softer and emotionally intelligent “coach.”  Even personal styles are seen as either loud, direct and aggressive, or quiet, indirect and reflective.  When leaders reflect on their own expressions of leadership, I’ve noticed they also tend to self-define in contrasting terms.

When we frame leadership in these either/or bipolar contrasts, we tend to get more of the same:  two dimensional leadership.  It’s either black or white, hard or soft, aggressive or reflective.

It’s time we embrace three dimensional leadership.  We value leaders primarily for their 1) good judgment,  2) decisions and 3) their ability to craft and communicate a compelling vision that others want to follow.  Since these are all part of the domain of value, I turn to the foremost expert in valuation and value analysis for some guidance. (more…)

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Culture clearly plays a part in leadership and how it is expressed in different places.  People who live or move within different cultures encounter these differences and know they are real; the words to accurately describe or understand the differences, however, are often lacking.  We resort to general observations or broad-brush statements that are riddled with exceptions.

The experiences of leaders in different countries clearly shape them.  Two researchers looking at leaders in China, India and Singapore noted difference in challenging assignments, developmental relationships, dealing with hardships, education and personal experience.  All of these influences shape individuals into the leaders they are, and gaining an appreciation for each individual’s personal biography is insightful and essential for understanding their own expression of leadership with its gaps and its strong areas.

One way of understanding leadership differences is through behavior styles.  (more…)

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Strategy-driven organizations

“We’re so busy putting out fires and trying to keep the business going that strategy just doesn’t show up on the screen.  We seem to drift a lot,” one leader confided in me.  I could relate because I’ve been part of an organization that couldn’t maintain a strategic focus.   We had flavor-of-the-month and reliably we would worry over sales each quarter, but strategy never got consistent attention.

The lack of strategic focus is a leadership issue, even when the leaders of an organization “live and breathe” strategy or see themselves as very strategic (but you might be surprised how many don’t).  Such organizations also find it difficult to hang on to their talent for long. (more…)

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Question:  What are the three critical numbers you use to manage your business?  As a leader, what’s your backup system (or at least your plan) when the game suddenly changes?


I’ll get to that question in a minute, but first let me share a personal story.  I continue to be surprised by some of the misconceptions that people have about flying.  This past weekend I was in a conversation with a man who had a friend that was a pilot of a small plane.  This man’s friend took off on a trip cross country and not too far along he had an instrument failure.  (more…)

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leadskill-website

Do you know how hard your online employees are working?  Did you say you don’t have any employees?  If you have a website, blog, Facebook page, eBay store or any other kind of online commercial presence, I suggest you do have online employees, and it would be in your interest to think of them that way.

I was coaching another consultant today who does not have a website but who said she wanted one and knew she needed one.  She’s not super-savvy on web technology, nor does she care to be.  I suggested that she think of building a website/blog as if she were hiring an employee.  Here’s how the logic works… (more…)

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What are you thinking about?

Good performers give thought to their actions.  “What am I doing?  How can I do it better?”  To improve their performance they focus on their performance and the actions and skills needed to perform well.

Top performers focus attention on their habits of thought.  They already know and have learned well the actions and skills needed for good performance.  They focus instead on what makes the difference between good, solid performance and top performance.  In short, the difference is the mental game. (more…)

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I’ve advocated many times for an “evidence based” approach to management and business.  Too often I come across people who are getting acceptable results but when pressed to explain, they clearly don’t know why it’s working.  When they stop getting results, they don’t know what to change or do different.  That’s why I urge people to test your assumptions, take accurate measurements, keep score, notice what’s working–and what isn’t.   I believe it is crucial to avoid learning the wrong lessons, which happens when we draw conclusions about our successes and failures that are not based on the facts, but on our prejudices, assumptions, or a strong-minded person’s opinion.

brown_bear_by_marshmallow1We also have to guard against mistaking our measurements and our models with the whole picture.  There’s always more than what we can see or measure, and we need to avoid wearing self-made blinders.  It’s in the hidden spaces that wild and chaotic forces lurk.

(more…)

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Brain Science and Top Talent

brain_by_roonegIt’s common to think of top talent as people who are just plain smarter than the rest, the really bright people who stand out.  There are obviously some linkages, but they aren’t as hard and fast as they first appear.  Smart people who don’t really apply themselves can’t be classified as top talent.   There is also a case for different talents, not all of which are cognitive.  One reason for the interest in Daniel Goleman’s notion of emotional intelligence is because he explained how many top achievers differentiate themselves because of a particular form of social intelligence or personal mastery, not because of traditional measures of IQ or intelligence.

New discoveries in brain science seem to greet us almost every day.  How the mind and brain work is a fascinating field that just gets more interesting with each new discovery. 

We’re learning about different types of memory, the different regions of the brain where they are stored or accessed, (more…)

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