Top companies constantly focus on talent management
LEADERSHIP is the single most important attribute of any organisation, says Steve Smith, senior executive at management consulting company Accenture.
Speaking on CNBC’s informative Africa’s Boardroom, Smith emphasised that companies with talented and able leaders have a clear advantage when they are faced with demanding business cycles.
A strong and focused leadership pulls the organisation through difficult times and has the vision to excel in good times, Smith says. “A strong leader has the ability to identify where the organisation’s weaknesses, shortcomings and opportunities are. He knows where he is taking the organisation, communicates it effectively and motivates the people around him/her to achieve the objectives.”
An organisation also needs a strong leader to identify and build on its strengths and talent, Smith says. “One of the key characteristics from a leadership point of view is the ability to quickly identify a leadership team’s talents and then harness their respective skills to achieve the best possible results.”
Jonathan Cook, executive director at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), adds that a strong leader and a strong management team around him can’t be separated. “In a sense the leader is a creation of the team that supports him/her: they work closely together and one of the key aspects of leadership success is to what extent a team can be motivated, inspired and consequently pull together.”
Cook says the process of identifying and developing leaders in any organisation has to be a combined effort of the HR function and management. “We don’t do enough in this regard in SA and on the Continent. Although some leaders do just that, we expect leaders to sort of pop up. However, there are other people who have the potential of becoming great leaders if only they were recognised, acknowledged and given the opportunity to shine.”
Cook stresses that not all good leaders are charismatic – a person who is naturally followed. “If you are not charismatic, it doesn’t mean that you can’t lead – it means that you have to find your own way of influencing people: quietly, persuasively by intellect or sincerity or in other effective ways.”
Another very important factor is that no one should be jealous or even anxious about talented staff members emerging as leaders. Says Smith: “It is important that companies have the processes in place to ensure that the appropriate talent is appointed. Be in touch with your talent.”
Talent management is therefore an important agenda item that organisations should constantly focus on.
But how should organisations go about identifying and developing talent?
Natalie Davies, head of interim management at Cycan, says there are specific qualities that you have to look for. Although different companies have different requirements, behaviour positives like values, passion, clarity and focus are important when initiating any talent search.
Cook adds that a leader should also have the desire and drive to lead. “Also look for people who have followers in terms of agreeing with him, being inspired by him and wanting to go where he is leading them.