One comment that we routinely hear from HR managers in Lebanon is that “we can’t find good people and when we find them, we can’t keep them.” A fundamental question that begs to be answered is: Are good people born or developed? We believe that they are born and developed to reach their full potential. Is this the responsibility of the HR department or the CEO? To some degree, both.
Unfortunately, most CEOs spend little if any time developing talent in their company. A recent survey of top companies around the world revealed that successful CEOs spend close to 50% of their time developing themselves and others. How much time do you spend?
Organizations that do the best job of cranking out leaders tend to have CEO’s like Jeffery Immlet of GE, who are directly and actively involved in leadership development. Men and women like him realize that the future success of their company is dependent on this type of people investment.
Although it is important for the CEO to play an active role in talent development, ultimately the responsibility is up to you actively participate in motivating and developing yourself.
Listen to what General Mills CEO Steve Sanger recently told 90 of his colleagues: “As you all know, last year my team told me that I needed to do a better job of coaching my direct reports. I have just reviewed my 360-degree feedback. I have been working on becoming a better coach for the past year or so. I’m still not doing quite as well as I want, but I’m getting a lot better. My coworkers have been helping me to improve.”
Steve realized that it is his personal responsibility to develop himself and to acquire the skills that will enable him to be a more talented coach. No one was forcing him to do this. In order to become a better leader, he had to do something different. It makes no difference if you are a CEO, middle manager or front-line worker, you need to discover and develop your talent(s).
How is this accomplished?
Organizations need to put lots of focus on identifying high-potential people, better differentiate compensation, serve up the right kinds of opportunities (for promotion and training), and closely watch turnover. Of course, crucial to all these efforts is CEO support and involvement. There is no question that one of the best ways leaders can get others to improve is to work on improving themselves. Leading by example can mean a lot more than leading by public-relations hype.
Importantly, the principle of leadership development by personal example doesn’t apply just to general managers or CEOs. It applies to all levels of management. All good leaders want their people to grow and develop on the job and it starts at the top.
One of the benefits of talent development is talent retention. This is one of the greatest challenges facing the business world in Lebanon.
Every organization, large or small, that expects to grow and prosper must make talent retention a top priority. Failure to do so may be at the least a form of organizational denial and, at worst, a recipe for steady decline. The shortage of labor and widening skills gap fueled by the educational demands of knowledge work, has created a “battle for talent” that will make the “talent war” of the late 1990s look like a skirmish, all point to the need for updated retention competencies for leaders. Talent Keepers, an employee retention firm, list 10 talent keepers essential for leaders to understand and perform in order to retain and engage employees over the long-term:
1. Build trust.
2. Build esteem.
4. Build climate.
5. Be a flexibility expert.
6. Act as talent developer and coach.
7. Build high-performance.
8. Be a retention expert.
9. Monitor retention.
10. Find talent.
Using that success formula, leaders can retain and engage employees, but, importantly, they will earn their employees’ trust.
Talent is a crucial ingredient for any successful company. It must be cultivated and held on to. Don’t fall into the trap that so many do. They fail to develop talent in others for fear that they will lose it down the road. Start today, develop your talent and the talent of the people around you.
Tommy Weir and Christine Crumrine are from the Beirut-based CrumrineWeir, the global leadership experts.