To reach targets, drive a strategy with excellence and exceed shareholder demands, organisations need top talent. Gone are the days when employees could just follow process and be reasonably productive for their allotted eight hours – the competition is now too fierce. In the ever-changing and somewhat complex environment of a globalised economy, businesses are scrambling to get ahead at best and keep afloat at worst. Gaining market-share and growing one’s business footprint in ever-increasing circles around the world is complicated and requires masterful skills and insights, with a good dose of investment capital, to accomplish successfully. Great leadership is essential – men and women who can think and apply themselves strategically, take ownership, be accountable, communicate with all stakeholders enthusiastically and ultimately get results. Greatness, however, can’t just be vested in the CEO. CEO’s need to build a number of key leaders around them that are remarkable in their own rights – they are able and, in fact, consistently deliver above expectation and, as such, grow the company in leaps and bounds.

Such talented leaders are difficult to find, but need to be targeted for the development of an effective leadership team. John Gatherer and Debbie Craig (Spotting Talent – Tools & Tips) note: “Talent is usually a combination of ability, attributes, track record, behaviour, engagement and aspiration”. In other words, there is a need to possess a certain level of cognitive, technical and emotional ability to perform well and get results. Taking their points, what organisations should be targeting in terms of leadership are candidates that have unique:

  • Ability – good business acumen and leadership ability, strategic insight and interpersonal skills, a technical understanding of the respective industry and superior communication ability.
  • Attributes – drive and curiosity, compassion and passion, energy and resilience, “big picture” or holistic thought processes.
  • Behaviours – people of integrity who “walk their talk”, lead by example, uphold the company values and grow the company culture through inspirational and positive attitude.
  • Track Record – consistency in performing in a number of past contexts and a good reputation where competence and character are both in place.
  • Engagement – a desire to stay and make a contribution, involvement in the life of the company and its employees as a whole and loyalty to the brand.
  • Aspiration – a quest for growth and future leadership responsibility, a desire for company success, results and commensurate reward and a balanced life.

Targeting top talent requires a change in:

  • organisational outlook – performance management tools need to be available, taught and practised by all in management for the ongoing development of internal resources
  • leadership bias – away from protection of position, but towards targeting top talent and expecting excellence at all levels
  • rewards and incentives – apart from, but as well as, results, maybe organisations need to be looking at recognition and rewards for leadership skill – taking the initiative, innovation, inspiration and integrity

Targeting top talent is essential for growth and the very sustainability of the organisation. Without the ongoing introduction of top talent into the company, stagnation can easily occur and market-share can dwindle. To stay ahead of the pack requires new thinking, innovation and inspirational leadership – CEO’s must build this talent around themselves.

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