Category Archives: Talent Management

Elements of Leadership – Part 3: The First Step Every Great Leader Must Take

Are great leaders born or made?

Take a minute to consider the leaders who have touched your life. Perhaps at a former or current workplace, a non-profit you care about, or a community organization?

Think of people you trust and respect.

Who are they? What do you know about them? Do you know their story, how they came to be the leaders they are today? How they came to earn your respect?

If you do know their story, chances are they’ve had their share of adversity and have had to make important choices along the way. They have persevered and become successful—in the broadest sense of the word—because of a strong belief in what they were doing. And despite of what others may have seen as personal obstacles or shortcomings.

Great leaders have the ability to see what is possible, often when others don’t. They acknowledge and are able to utilize their individual traits, abilities, skills and interests to make progress toward a vision of what they believe can and should be.

Then they make one first simple step. They do something, small. They choose to act, to set things in motion. Not out of ease or convenience, but out of a sense of purpose. Or need.

Whether clearly defined or subtly innate, there is a direct connection between this urge to act and their personal and deeply held values and convictions. They are aware that there are some things in life that give them energy, and others that consume it. They are aware that it costs them more energy to hold back than to be deliberate and to act.

They choose to spend this energy wisely, in a way that is purposeful and beneficial to themselves and others, that provides life and joy instead of having to be contained and carefully managed. Blaming others for injustice, problems and obstacles and contributing to maintaining a status quo is simply not an option. It costs too much.

Great leadership is rarely based solely on a rational decision. It starts with a simple step and builds momentum and strength. It results in meaningful change. Not because of the results in and by themselves, but because the achievements are inherently linked to their origins and rationale.

Great leadership can only be as long as there is self-awareness and self-development.

It begins with acquiring an understanding of your values, convictions and sense of purpose. It includes an understanding of where you have been, in order for you to be deliberate about the direction you are heading. It requires courage and determination that can only be derived from the realization that you can lead and achieve because of who you are, here and now, and an appreciation and acknowledgement of the qualities and strengths that you already inhabit. Not what you aspire to be based on the perception of others.

Embrace who you are, your strengths and values. Comparing yourself to others may be an interesting exercise, but will ultimately only be a distraction. Be proud of who you are, your background, your story and qualities. Yet be deliberate in how you use, develop and direct them.

You already have everything you need to be a great leader. Yet you have to understand and appreciate what is important to you. And decide to make the first step.

Because great leaders are born, every day. And then they are made, again and again.

 

Elements of Leadership – Part 2: It’s what you know and how you use it

I have had the opportunity to work with leaders from very different backgrounds, cultures and professions. Whether I work with a client one-on-one or facilitating a workshop, I have learned to take the time to ask simple questions. Before charging ahead into the unknown territory of “what can be,” it is critical to understand “what is.”  

I have come to appreciate the value of establishing a shared foundation of knowledge, understanding and terminology.  “What do you do?” “What does a normal work day look like for you?” “Who do you talk to on a regular basis, and who comes to talk to you?” “What do they ask for?” And, perhaps the most effective question – “and then?”

These are questions that ask for specific and objective information, meant to allow for minimum bias or judgment. Slowly but surely we arrive at a shared understanding of what leadership is, what it represents, how it functions, how it is effective and where the potential may lay.

This type of informal assessment can be supplemented with information from a formal leadership assessment, which provides additional insight on leadership strengths, preferences and development areas.

This assessment phase of any coaching or development process is critical. We are sketching a map of the surrounding landscape, and building rapport and understanding along the way. The resulting map is used to plot a destination we agree upon and the road we’ll have to travel to get there.

Why is this so important?

Imagine yourself left in a forest, without a map or compass. Which direction would you travel? Without a map of the terrain, does it matter which direction you go? How will you know if you are making headway, without knowing where you are in relation to your destination? How would you determine what your goal or destination should be?

And, if you were responsible for a group of people who trusted and depended on you, how would you make the right decisions and be able to convey them with credibility and confidence?

Peter Drucker famously stated that “management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Doing the right thing, traveling in the right direction, requires a good map. It requires knowing “what is” so that you can determine the proper “to be.”

Strong leaders are often celebrated for their accomplishments, for what they are or were able to accomplish or achieve. It’s therefore natural for  leaders to focus significant time and energy on determining how to reach organizational goals related to budget, growth, development, and sustainability. In the absence of a good map, this journey can be arduous and a heavy burden to carry.

Do you have a map? How do you define your leadership?

The truth is that no one can define your leadership. Nobody but you.

Elements of Leadership – Part 1: Good leadership, common sense and purple cows

An organization requires good leaders to grow, develop and be successful. But what is the definition of a “good leader”?

Answering this question has developed into a multi-billion dollar industry, brandishing competing definitions, concepts and formulas. At some point in time, we have probably all purchased a self-help book or bought into a concept that purportedly had “all the answers.” They all come with some good perspectives and help us reconsider our existing approaches to leadership. Which is great, and always a well-worth exercise. But I think it’s safe to say that any book, concept, or article that argues to have all the answers never does.

Try to google “leadership fads” and you will end up with a long line of articles, including this one written by Steve Tobak @Inc. I found the article quite entertaining and interesting. In it, Tobak reviews some of the recent “fads” and argues that good leadership is the result of a combination of using common sense while embracing individual strengths that may provide a level of competitive advantage. This pragmatic and utilitarian approach definitely has a nice feel to it, although it doesn’t provide an answer to the question of what really defines “good leadership.”

If we all focus on our own individual strengths as leaders, combined with our individual interpretation of what constitutes “common sense” – wouldn’t we run the risk of turning into “purple cows” as described by Seth Godin in his book by the same name? Would we end up in a race where the end goal would always be to be a “remarkable” purple cow amidst all the regular brown ones? In a tough and challenging marketplace, where corporate ownership, brands, priorities and strategies have to be as effective and cost-efficient as they are flexible and in adaptable, won’t leaders and organizational leadership get caught up in the never-ending race toward one-up competitiveness?

I think they already have.

Over the last several years, faith in leadership appears to have slowly eroded in many organizations, both public and private. In important aspects, the financial crisis may have contributed to this, although the big financial institutions’ fall from grace may also be interpreted as a symptom of a broader problem of a growing leadership deficit in private enterprise. The more recent “fiscal cliff crisis” certainly provided a level of justification to the growing number of people who lack faith in our political leaders and the overall political process. In organizations across the nation, employee satisfaction and engagement is at a historical low. Numerous studies have found that more and more people are looking for alternate employment, or that they are unhappy with their current employers. The leadership deficit is growing by the minute.

So what do we do about it?

I believe that we have to make a concerted effort to turning things around, starting by taking a fresh look at our goals and priorities when it comes to the role and what we expect of our leaders in private enterprise, government, and non-profit organizations.

Because we need good leaders, better leaders. I believe anyone will agree. I would also argue that we need for people, for everyone, to have faith in their leaders. Yet for either of these to be realistic, we need our leaders to have faith in themselves and their ability and effectiveness in leading others.  Without first establishing a foundation of competence and confidence, within our group of leaders and beyond, nothing else that we do will matter.

Do you agree?

If you do, the first priority should be to find new and better ways and tools to develop and guide our leaders. Our goal should be to develop good leaders who have the skills, knowledge and abilities required to have sufficient confidence in their own abilities, who fully understand and accept the importance and value of their role and responsibilities, and who are effective in building the authority needed to leading and developing individuals, teams and organizations to enable them to accomplish extraordinary things.

Because this is what leadership is all about! It’s what makes leadership fun and so worth it.

We will return to this topic in the weeks to come, discussing what the essence and practical implications of good leadership really is. Please feel free provide your thoughts, comments, and suggestions. I welcome thoughts of disagreement even more than those who agree.

What is your organization doing to develop better leaders? What is your plan for developing your own leadership skills?

The Power of Integrated Talent Management and Assessment Solutions

HRIS and Talent Management systems are powerful and effective tools for any business. We all know that we cannot possibly hope to manage that which we do not track and measure.

For measure we must. Not just the input and output of daily production and operations, but the most costly and valuable resource of all – our employees and human capital.

We don’t always like the idea of measuring people. Intuitively, it makes us fear losing some of that which makes us human.

But HRIS and talent management systems are here to stay. And for good reasons. Over the last few years, the development in this area has been remarkable. Increased vendor competition and technological advances have drastically improved functionality and user interface. We can now do much more, much easier and with less time and labor.

We have also witnessed a seemingly never ending wave of mergers, acquisitions and strategic partnerships within the industry.

It therefore did not come as a surprise when Halogen Software yesterday (October 29, 2012) announced a new partnership. The partner, however, is worth noticing: SHL.

Who?

SHL may not be a well-known company to many in the HR circles in the US. It may be better known in other parts of the world, especially in Europe.

SHL brandishes itself as “the leader in talent measurement solutions, driving better business results for clients through superior people intelligence and decisions – from hiring and recruiting, to employee development and succession planning.”

In other words, SHL is a global psychometric assessment provider.

Every year, SHL delivers more than 25 million selection and development assessments in more than 30 different languages. SHL provides solutions in 150 countries and maintains a local presence in more than 50 countries.

With the new partnership, Halogen and SHL promises enhanced value to Halogen customers across several key areas of talent management, including talent acquisition, leadership development, career development and succession planning.

There is no doubt that Halogen customers will be able to make better talent decisions and possibly gain a competitive advantage with the new functionality provided by the integrated assessments. Particularly within the area of selection and hiring, but also when it comes to performance management, talent assessment, succession planning, competence and leadership development.

Here’s an example: According to the Human Capital Institute (HCI), the cost of hiring the wrong person for a position has been estimated to be 1.5 to 3.5 times the incumbent’s salary. The underlying science of SHL’s assessments combined with a robust talent acquisition process can significantly reduce the risk of incurring these costs. If you were able to avoid one or two bad hires a year, the cost savings would be significant.

The use of objective assessments can also be extremely valuable when tied to your company’s core competencies, performance standards, or KPIs linked to your corporate values.

You may already use assessments for identification of high potentials, executive coaching and development, learning and development programs, management assessment processes, or the performance evaluation process.

However, if you have yet to integrate assessments into your HRIS or talent management system or processes, you’re not alone. Many companies are in the same situation, often because of lack of resources or internal expertise. If that is the case, I recommend doing one of the following:

  • Reach out to HR colleagues and ask them what they do and what is working for them.
  • Contact your existing HRIS or Talent Management software providers to check if they recommend or have a partnership with specific assessment providers or solutions
  • Contact Corporate Elements or another trusted talent management consulting organization.

It is worth exploring. Assessments can add additional value to your existing HRIS and Talent Management systems and processes, and there is a proven return on investment. Assessments can also be an effective tool to reduce liability by adding objective criteria to your recruitment and development initiatives. And, whether you deploy assessments as an integrated feature in your HRIS or as a separate solution, it will prove to be a valuable and effective tool in the management of your most valuable resource.

 

About Ole Rygg, MA, PHR, CTC:

Ole is an independent talent management consultant, executive coach and strategic business partner who has been  providing consulting and training services to businesses, non-profits, and government organizations since 2002. He is the president and founder of Corporate Elements (http://corporateelements.com), a leading provider of executive coaching, talent management, organizational development and productivity improvement products and services. Corporate Elements partners with you to provide the manpower, experience and cutting-edge expertise you need to reach new goals and operate to the full potential of your business.

You may contact Ole via email at ole@corporateelements.com or by phone at (218) 329-0836.