Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Looking for Great Fossils and Great Leaders...


I am writing this week's blog while on vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina this week with my family. It has been time to relax and reflect on two things that are important to me...fossil hunting and creating great leaders.

It may not be readily apparent to you the similarities between these two very different topics, but let me share with you what part of my vacation includes. This week I will get up early and drive two hours away to meet a guide and other people with similar interests. I will get taken to an area, given insight on the area and the history, given tools to dig and sift through mounds of mud and sand to find those key nuggets of a fantastic past. It will be hot, tiring, and back braking work...but the payoff in pride and satisfaction will be amazing.

Now let's look at identifying great leaders. Those in this line of work usually are up early and working with teams. You and your team get and create information on the role of talent and leadership capability in the organization that provides a sense of the context and environment you are working. You bring with you sets of tools and processes to dig through the mountains of data available on leaders in your organization with the goal to find those great leaders or those with the potential, as early and as broadly as possible, to be great leaders in the future. It is hard and tiring work.

Like my fossil hunting trip this week...your search for great leaders in the organization may be for naught. Leadership and leadership development continues to be an important topic for many organizations. Recently, Deloitte published their Human Capital Trends 2011 study layout a number of areas of revolutionary and evolutionary approaches to human capital management (HCM) and human capital development (HCD). In the study, it references another Deloitte study from 2010 titled Talent Edge 2020: Blueprints for the new normal. When executives were asked about their most pressing talent concerns, developing leaders and succession planning came out #2. This concern is unlikely to change anytime soon. Identifying and developing leaders has been a consistent talent challenge raised by CXOs across a multitude of studies in the last five years.

So what do we do about it is the key question. There are estimates that we collectively spend over $14 billion on leadership development. A previous blog post from me indicates that academic research has not firmly made a connection between leadership and organizational performance (Leadership and Organizational Performance...Lack of Linkage...). So we know we have challenges and enormous expectations from our customers on what it is we are doing and the impact it is having.

Organizations that are better able to manage expectations, develop and identify great leaders will be the winners of the future. Diligent and consistent preparation will put you and your organization in position to succeed...just like it will for my fossil hunt this week.


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

Twitter: JKeithDunbar
LinkedIn: J. Keith Dunbar
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.

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