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Nurturing for dollars: are you investing in the right people?

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An important lesson garnered from the banking collapse and global recession of 2008-2009 was that our connected world is capable of massive institutional failure that presents current and future leaders with unprecedented challenges. Despite this painful realization, the mainstream approach to selecting and developing leaders hasn’t changed significantly in the last 40 years.  

Antiquated approaches are slowing development of the next generation of leaders, and that issue is compounded by the mass “aging out” of senior executives. Approximately 78 million baby boomers will be retiring within the next four to seven years, while only 46 million 'Gen X’ers' are coming into leadership age. On top of it all, job-hopping has become the norm, making it harder for organizations to benefit from long-term investment in their stars. Indeed, employees who graduated after 2010 will work for approximately 14 companies by the time they turn 40, according to recent research.  

That level of turnover makes it difficult for organizations to grow in a consistently profitable direction. The divergent pathways of IBM and HP illustrate that reality: since 1999, HP has seen 7 different CEOs, while IBM has had just 9 CEO’s in 100 years. As a result, HP moved from strategy to strategy, never focusing on the long term. IBM, meanwhile, executed on 5-year plans that steered it to success.  

IBM’s talent development program has gone through numerous iterations, seeking input from many different sources, and has evolved based upon market realties and internal measurement “systems” that evaluate potential through contextual metrics. In other words, IBM’s system considered global changes, while HP attempted to drive down the highway while looking through the rearview mirror.      

With that in mind, organizations must proactively: 

  • enact a talent strategy that attracts and engages the right employees and an appropriate mix of older, younger, immigrant, virtual and contingent workers

  • investigate changes in structure, processes and technology that will be required to support a globally mobile or virtual workforce

  • assess the expected schism between skilled and unskilled workers. What will this mean to the organization, especially when employees are placed in the wrong skill group?

  • think differently about learning and development on an ongoing basis – we live in a world where half the information learned by college students studying for a technical degree will rapidly become outdated

  • balance and leverage the inevitable increase in the involvement of the government and policy makers in the world of business. 

With long-term training programs in place, companies must then measure future leaders with metrics that are geared for this era of globalization. The right metrics will open up a new understanding about what makes a modern leader and how to ignite a field of inspired action.  

Leadership in the modern world is the capacity of a system or a community to co-create its future as it evolves. The most glaring need is a migration away from the single-person-centric model of leadership, which invites bias into the selection process. Women, for example, account for 54% of all university graduates in the United States, but only 4% of the executive leadership in Fortune 100 companies – a contradiction that reveals the flaws in today’s corporate ideology. Future leaders will need to:

  • reflect the diverse nature of their key stakeholders in the organization

  • be more collaborative. They must care more about facilitating and bringing smart people and entities together to solve problems. They must engage talent from a level of interest, motivational perspective and traditional skills.  

To nurture these leaders, development programs will need to consider and collaborate across the different perspectives found at country and regional levels. Each developmental activity requires the strengthening of cross-sector and cross-cultural leadership, while ensuring that all stakeholders are involved in the process of developing talent.

As these changes are made to find too near-term leaders, organizations must also put youth in the driver’s seat to ensure they have long-term leadership in mind. At present, 50% of the available talent in the world is under the age of 25. These are the real stakeholders of the future and are the foundation for the next generation of talented leaders.

To find out how to secure the talent your organization needs for future success, contact us now.

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