Sunday, October 23, 2011

Integrated Leadership Development - Potential Answer to the Importance-Effectiveness Gap


I have written a couple of times about the gap between the importance of leadership development activities and the effectiveness of organization's efforts. Typically a pretty large gap exists...many understand its importance, but have a really hard time with determining their effectiveness at doing it.

Research from Dr. David Weiss and Dr. Vince Molinaro, from their book "The Leadership Gap: Building Leadership Capacity for Competitive Advantage" may present a solution.

In the book, Weiss and Molinaro indicate that "Emerging research links an organization's ability to develop its leadership capacity to it's competitive advantage." this is important as other research cited by the two indicates a linkage between the greater the robustness of a company's leadership capacity and the greater its financial return in critical financial measures such as shareholder returns, growth in net increase, growth in market share and return on sales. Pretty significant linkages as we discussed in an earlier DNA of Human Capital piece on an apparent lack of linkage between leadership and organizational performance titled "Leadership and Organizational Performance...Lack of Linkage."

Weiss and Molinaro discuss the differences and importance of the single-solution and multiple-solution approach to leadership development and that while single-solution is probably the most prevalent...the multiple-solution approach represents a more evolved approach. Because leaders are exposed to a greater number of leadership development options, they are better positioned to develop leadership capacity utilizing a mixture of options around assessment, coaching, learning and experiences.

Weiss and Molinaro discuss several factors creating a new sense of urgency in leadership development activities and driving an integrated approach. These include...

1. The complex business environment - understanding that leaders operate in environments that are more complex and intense than before.
2. The need to deliver results on many levels - pressure is on leaderships development activities to deliver results in transference of skills and ides to leaders, enhance leader performance, reinforce corporate culture and values, drive business results and adapt to changing business realities.
3. The high expectations of leaders - Senior executives want to see their investment in leadership development maximized and deliver on the promise of increase leadership capacity.
4. The need to sort through a maze of leadership development options - Leadership development is big business. Estimated to be as much as $50B per year business. There is much to choose from, but what makes sense?

Because of this, Weiss and Molinaro propose integrated-solution approach to leadership development. This includes the following components:

1. Develop a comprehensive strategy for integrated leadership development - A strategy defines what kind of leader the organization needs. The strategy also ensures development options are relevant, align to business needs, and add value to leaders.
2. Connect leadership development to the organization's environmental challenges - Connecting leadership development to an organization's environmental challenges creates focus and ensures that leadership development is being used to prepare leaders to succeed in the future.
3. Use the leadership story to set the context for development - Organizations need to have and use a compelling story to tell employees what the organizational leadership philosophy and culture is. The story serves as a focal point for development options.
4. Balance global enterprise-wide needs with local individual needs - Organizations must identify development options that are needed by all leaders of the organization such as creating a common leadership culture, enhancing core leadership competencies and responding to changes in the business environment.
5. Employ emergent design and implementation - because the business environment is now so much more complex, this suggests that leadership development must be emergent in that organizations must continually be in touch with what is happening in the business and be ready to respond to it.
6. Ensure that development options fit the culture - Leadership development options must fit in the culture and the organization's readiness.
7. Focus on critical moments of the leadership lifecycle - Leadership development focuses on new ways of thinking specific to leader roles and their transition points. Times when leaders are at their highest risk is when at these leadership transition points between new positions and activities.
8. Apply a blended methodology - Blending various solutions involving assessment, coaching, learning and experience are key to leadership development.

While this approach suggested by the authors is more complex, it has greater potential to create the leadership capacity needed within organizations to succeed. For your leadership development organizations to create and execute an integrated leadership development you will need a team whose leader can take a systems thinking approach in seeing the forest from the trees and the right people to execute their component of the approach.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Big Data = Big Talent Needs


A recent McKinsey article drew my attention. Titled "Are You Ready for the Era of "Big Data"?, it details a current environment where people can mine and leverage data to develop new business models and become more agile and adaptable to evolving business conditions. This story at the front of the article resonates this approach...

The top marketing executive at a sizable US retailer recently found herself perplexed by the sales reports she was getting. A major competitor was steadily gaining market share across a range of profitable segments. Despite a counterpunch that combined online promotions with merchandizing improvements, her company kept losing ground. When the executive convened a group of senior leaders to dig into the competitor’s practices, they found that the challenge ran deeper than they had imagined. The competitor had made massive investments in its ability to collect, integrate, and analyze data from each store and every sales unit and had used this ability to run myriad real-world experiments. At the same time, it had linked this information to suppliers’ databases, making it possible to adjust prices in real time, to reorder hot-selling items automatically, and to shift items from store to store easily. By constantly testing, bundling, synthesizing, and making information instantly available across the organization—from the store floor to the CFO’s office—the rival company had become a different, far nimbler type of business.

The article lays out five key questions that organizations need to ask about their use and investment in "big data" to transform their business and/or maintain competitive advantage as the story above indicates. At a deeper level the article briefly touches on the talent and human capital needs required to make "big data" a reality. The research by McKinsey even insinuates the possibility of "big data" taking the place of management. Now...I am not interested in tackling the issue that last question raises by McKinsey, but I am interested in tackling what the talent and human capital implications are of such an approach.

If organizations are going to leverage the "big data" environment, they will need people with different skills and not just technical skills. Just the leadership skills required to leverage this new environment (Regardless of it taking the place of management...) are not necessarily new...but potentially new combinations. Some of these include the following:

Pattern Recognition - Ability to see the data and make decisions based on the data...White space management...

Creativity - Ability to recognize those patterns and identify creative solutions and products to mine the opportunity...

Innovation Management - Ability to see creative solutions developed and gotten to market quickly...

High Emotional Intelligence - Ability to leverage the skills of your people...

Dealing with Ambiguity - Ability to make decisions within high levels of volatility, ambiguity, complexity and uncertainty...

Strength Seer - Ability to see what strengths and skills are needed to exploit new business models and mobilize teams with the right skills and strengths...

So while companies look to leverage these new capabilities across their organizations to develop new and sustainable business models, you have to think of what the talent needs are to create this capability. You may even want to read this article from on hiring based upon data...7 "Moneyball" Hiring Tips.

Good luck...


J. Keith Dunbar is a Global Talent Management Leader...Creator of Talent, Leadership Capability, and Culture Change...He can be found connecting and sharing knowledge on Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Twitter: JKeithDunbar
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Blog: DNA of Human Capital

The opinions or views expressed here are mine alone and do not represent the views of the Department of Defense or the Defense Intelligence Agency.