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Make 2010 your year: Leadership, personal development and talent

14th Jan 2010
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New year means new you: personal development is never wasted, making you a better employee, manager and leader: with succession planning a key aim for many HR directors this year, now is the time to invest in you and be part of the plan.

With the prospect of a better year and a brighter future ahead for all of us, many are thinking this new year should mean a new you or new job - whether in your current organisation or outside. Personal development is something which may have fallen to the back of the list of priorities in times of recession. However with businesses thinking more about growth than survival in 2010, now is the time to make sure your skills are contributing to your working life and making a real difference in the areas you want to influence.

Recent research of HR directors from Taleo found that although budgets do remain stretched for the time being, this year HR is focusing on succession planning, employee retention and supporting leadership. The prospect of moving towards a leadership role or being a part of the future of leading the organisation is a real one and developing skills and considering leadership styles and approaches will make you invaluable to the business in the near future.

Regarding the need to engage the right people in the organisation, Chris Phillips, vice president of international marketing for Taleo said: "Succession planning is now critical to ensure that businesses have the talent they need to grow. Strategic succession planning links the leadership pipeline with top performer retention and leverage. As the economy slowly recovers, HR managers are worrying about short- and long-term employee retention. They are especially focused on identifying and engaging their key employees before they start to think about a move."

Where personal development for up and coming leaders comes in as being so vitally important is that there is currently a tremendous desire to engage talent within the organisation and bring those people into higher roles from below to make the organisation as strong as it can be. Good succession planning is extremely beneficial to business, as Phillips said: "The organisations that get succession planning right and hold on to their key talent will be the ones making the strongest recoveries in the shortest amount of time."

This isn't just a cost efficient and logical way of developing internal talent to provide a secure and prosperous future for the organisation, especially when it comes to the leadership of the business, but also produces more effective, better received leaders, as Taleo discovered last year with the concept of 'Grow your own CEO'. The report stated: "A major finding revealed by the research data is that home-grown leaders are held in greater regard within their organisation than talent drafted in from outside: 54% of all respondents have more respect for leaders who have worked their way up through the organisation, compared to 11% who report less respect for this group. This represents a clear 5:1 majority."

It continued by explaining that even having a practice of developing leaders from the inside or 'hot-housing' talent encourages engagement and productivity in the workplace. The report added: "Home-grown leaders are a superior choice. Conversant with the culture of the organisation, they have a ready-made network of critical relationships in place across a broad range of departmental stakeholders. They hit the ground fast, understand both market and operational issues, and are well versed in what enables intradepartmental collaboration. Additionally, their talents and skills - honed in-house - are known and quantifiable." All these benefits leave the organisation with strong incentives to take up talented individuals and encourage them in their quest to develop and lead.

Below are some tips from current HR leader, David Fairhurst of McDonalds, and inspirational thought leader Jim Collins. All that remains is for you to kick start 2010 with your personal development - remember: no one is as interested in your career as you, and time spent on this is not only well spent for yourself, but will benefit your organisation and the people you lead. 

Leadership inspiration: Jim Collins

At the CIPD conference in 2009, Jim Collins, the inspiration speaker, told a rapt audience how best to help make their organisations the best they can be with these tips:

  • Make 'not to do' lists as well as 'to do' lists - break bad habits as well as fostering new, positive ones
  • He also told leaders to turn off their gadgets and set aside at least three full working days of 'thinking time' per fortnight
  • The thing he articulated most, however, was not to focus on your survival and don't think purely about success - instead focus on how and where you can be useful and do something useful in your organisation. This, claims Collins, is what makes the difference

 Leadership inspiration: David Fairhurst's top tips

  • Do what is right for the business - short and long term
  • When you look back at the end of this recession, will you be a case study of role-model behaviour, values and best practice as an organisation? Will people say, 'remember what that business did?'
  • It is not just about 'bums on seats' and who fills what job anymore; it is about keeping up with the fast-moving changing skill set
  • If we are judged in hindsight to have done the right things for our organisation, in the right way for our people, we will have done ourselves and our profession an enormous amount of good

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By Yuvarajah
15th Jan 2010 01:59

According to Stephen Covey, character ethics are more permanent, trusting and sincere traits that holds up authentic leadership. You can have all the techniques to rebuild and renergise your business, but if your true character is fundamantally flawed, everything you do, including the best of intentioned human relationship, will be perceived as manipulative and short term fix to get by.  

I would like to see HR as being the moral compass to leadership, in both good times and bad. If they had done a good job, then probably we would not have had to face-off the recession. And, what about the current worrying  situation of talents abandoning ship. The moral question that begs HR is, "Why would your loyal people leave you?. What have you done or not done to imprint the thought of leaving?. If it is purely money, what does it tell you of why people work for you and where you need to seriously work on". Perhaps, Daniel Pink's rationale on what really motivate people can make sense.                    

The article wrote, "Good succession planning is extremely beneficial to business, as Phillips said:"The organisations that get succession planning right and hold on to their key talent will be the ones making the strongest recoveries in the shortest amount of time."

I would prefer if it said, "Any succession planning is extremely critical for the business". And, this should have been there, recession or not. Hence, I am not sure why it's now given prominance as critical to recoveries in the shortest time. Isn't it sad that at a time, when people should be unleashing the "fire in the belly" and innate creativity and innovative talents, their thoughts are rooted in basic motivational needs! 

This is where Strategic HR should be focused on and heading towards. It's not about short term quick fix techniques and quantifiable metrics. HR should be bold enough to venture into the core of the business in impacting the spiritual or moral side of leadership. HR need to step up to being the "trim tap" of the business in putting the leadership character and corporate culture on its right path. 

As David succintly put's it,  "It is not just about 'bums on seats' and who fills what job anymore; it is about keeping up with the fast-moving changing skill set. Yes, we ought to be introducing "out of the box" skill sets to change the fundamental way we think, see and behave in a interdependant, collaborative and sustainable manner to succeed. Rhetorics and good intentions are meaningless if there is distrust and fear prevalent. We need to reconstruct the new business model, incorporating the need for morality in guiding the character of business leadership.  


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