This article appeared in print as part of “Ask & Give: Female Entrepreneurs Rally in Columbia” Growing up, it didn’t take long for Liz...
It may seem like a simple part of the construction process, but the strength of the foundation and the strength of a building’s infrastructure are incredibly important. The same is true regarding your organization.
All things are constantly in transition within your organization, especially where talent is concerned. There is no status quo. This DNA of talent within your company is your leadership infrastructure. It’s the foundation of your enterprise. In the last few years, leaders have come to realize just how important this structure, and the process involved, is to leadership. Talent comes and goes, but the management of that process can separate good and great companies.
A few leaders handle this transition process very well, while many do not. Very few even realize how challenging it’s going to be, and many of these leaders are those who have a low appreciation of the role talent plays in the degree of success they will produce. These types of leaders believe people are very replaceable, much like cogs in a wheel. When one is done, just get another one and keep on going. Thankfully, that mentality is slowly but surely dying in today’s business environment, as more appreciation for talent is on the rise.
The fact is, employees are our biggest source of competitive advantage, and finding and grooming talented people is our biggest challenge. You may be surprised to learn that most experts agree there is a worldwide shortage of talent, and most companies are not prepared for the challenge of attracting, retaining, and developing the people they need to have an impressive leadership infrastructure.
Too many companies (not my clients) are not taking action at the CEO and senior executive level, and talent management and development are not a core competency of senior executives. They do not see how this competency is linked to their overall responsibility of growing the business. Not only is it linked — it’s inseparable. If you ask winning coaches what the main ingredient of their success is, most will answer that they had the best players.
So, if tasked with building a stronger leadership infrastructure, how would we break down the current talent inventory?
There are people within your company who believe in the mission and vision, and they live the core values. They also have the ability and skills to adapt to the jobs you will need in the future as your company grows. These people are at the top of your list as high-potential people who can really help you grow through future transitions.
These people buy into the philosophy of your organization, but they need training and development on some skills in order to fill the company’s future needs. They are a step or two behind the aforementioned group, but they can catch up if you engage in the right technical skills training plan for them.
Sometimes you have people who are a great fit for the organization and possess the skills — they just need coaching to shore up the gaps in their behaviors. Sometimes this falls under interpersonal skills, leadership, or another area in which they are able to perform technically but need help behaviorally.
Yes, it’s unfortunately true. Sometimes, the people who got you here are not the people who will take you there. Companies evolve and change. Some do not change with it. Those that believe that talent trumps tenure know this so very well. This philosophy believes that yesterday’s length of service should be recognized, but should not carry much weight if the talent doesn’t match today’s — or even more importantly, tomorrow’s — challenges.
You must always be recruiting. The only way organizations will be able to compete in the future is to have the talent to compete. As your company grows and changes, you will have different needs than you do today. It’s important to constantly identify your needs and keep the recruiting funnel full to be able to access the talent you will need.
If you take an honest and thorough look at the leadership infrastructure and the succession plan in your organization, you must come to realize you cannot accept anything but outstanding talent in your key positions and the backups to those positions throughout the company. Yes, talent is in short supply, but to be successful, you must locate, acquire, and curate as much of it as you can.