Why “talent is the competitive edge”
I agree with Bill Conaty and Ram Charan: “If businesses managed their money as carelessly as they manage their people, most would be bankrupt.” This is especially true of talented workers for whom competition to hire and then retain has become ferocious.
In their book, The Talent Masters: Why Smart Leaders Put People Before Numbers published by Crown Business/Random House, Conaty and Charan assert, “Talent will be the big differentiator between companies that succeed and those that don’t. Those that win will be led by people who can adapt their organizations to change, make the right strategic bets, take calculated risks, conceive and execute new value-creating opportunities, and build and rebuild competitive advantage. Only one competency lasts. It is the ability to create a steady, self-renewing stream of leaders.”
Everyone agrees with these comments. Here’s the challenge: How to create a steady, self-renewing stream of leaders,” not only in the C-suite but indeed at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise?
In response, Conaty and Charan offer their concept of the “talent master” whose dominant characteristics include:
• They study intensely the behavior, actions, and decisions of individuals and correlate them with business performance.
• Their observations are “rigorous, specific, and nuanced.”
• They dig deeply to understand an individual’s unique combination of strengths.
• They work very, very hard to become intimately familiar with someone’s specific (albeit underdeveloped and perhaps otherwise unrecognized) talent(s), to know that person’s essence.
• As a result of keen observation and frequent contact, in combination with “constant and intense practice,” they understand the subtleties that differentiate people.
• Over time, talent masters help others to gain these and other core values and competencies in an effort to institutionalize a comprehensive talent recognition and development system.
Not only in major corporations such as GE and P&G but also in much smaller organizations, the objective is to establish and then develop a culture in which there is an enlightened leadership team, a meritocracy through differentiation, real-world workplace values (rather than laminated platitudes), mutual trust and respect, rigorous talent assessment, strict individual accountability, and continuous learning and improvement.
In short, a culture in which peak performers thrive.
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