Build and Maintain Your Talent

Image of a hand holding a small watering can, pouring water onto small growing sproutsI have spoken many times on the importance of leaders building the capabilities of their teams (and individual team members). While many of us acknowledge one of our key roles is to develop the talent and capabilities of our teams, my experience is that very few of us are focused on this critical task.  The vast majority of us are not delivering the support, coaching and training required to ensure our organisations are full of talented and capable people ready to take the next step.

In a recent article by Drew Hansen, 5 Keys for Developing Talent in Your Organisation, my attention was drawn to some recent research that indicates that as leaders climb the corporate ladder, they lose the ability to develop those around them.  This outcome is surprising given that the vast majority of survey participants recognised that developing the talent of the people within their organisation is a strategic priority.  This revealing research states that the key drivers for this phenomenon are:

  • a lack of time to focus on developing their people,
  • a key focus on the obvious measurable outcomes (not the less obvious development of their people), and
  • the lack of a development culture` where time spent developing the capability of their people is seen as important and valuable work.

Given that most of you will agree that building the talent within our organisation is a strategic imperative, how do we ensure we remain focused on developing the capabilities of our people? Hansen cites a number of suggestions that we could adopt to help us build and maintain the talent within our teams.  The actions we need to consider adopting are:

  1. Be a Role Model. Be open and honest about your own needs to get better at what you do. Show others how you develop your own skills.  Show your vulnerability by admitting what you are not strong at.  It will also enable others to see you as a person not just a leader.
  2. Promote The Value of Learning. Move beyond the imposed, bi annual development conversation.  Start having deeper conversations with your people and learn what drives them, what their ambitions are and what skills they would like to help with.  These types of conversations demonstrate the value you place on learning new skills and your commitment to your people’s development.  Another way to promote the value of learning is to ensure we not only celebrate the results of each project/program, we also celebrate the learning that has taken place.
  3. Build Processes that Support Development. Make it clear that it is the responsibility of each and every leader within your organisation to develop their people in a sustainable way.  Lead by example and develop your own direct reports.  Give your leaders the skills and tools to deliver on this expectation and then hold them to account.
  4. Promote Your Organisational Values. Ensure that all operational and learning activities are linked to the organisational values. This enables team members to understand the importance of the link between their learning and the values of the business. Lead by example and link your own development to the organisational values.
  5. Learn From Opportunities. Make no mistake, we will all fail at some stage. We just need to clarify what is an acceptable level/frequency of failure.   Then we can challenge our people to stretch themselves without the fear of failure.  The learnings can then be developed as opportunities for both the individual and the organisation.

We know that building the capability of our organisation through the development of our people is a strategic imperative in an ever changing operating landscape. Take a minute to think about how you (and your organisation) are building the capability of your people. As Tom Peters said ‘Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders’.  Are you creating more leaders within your organisation?

Happy Leading!