The risk of being an innovator is that you’re often the first one in the room with the next big idea. It can be a lonely place while you’re waiting for the mainstream to catch up. Trust me, we know. We’ve been at the very forefront of thought leadership for nearly five years, but the wait was worthwhile as study after study is hitting the mainstream business press validating our approach with one salient, statistically-signficant point after another.
Here’s another study that supports our perspective. The SHL Talent Report is monumental, having canvased data from more than one million professionals, executives and associates from around the world to gather insights into People Intelligence and the strategic role this perspective is already playing in organizational success or failure. The study focuses on several key facets of Leadership for Today, Leadership for Tomorrow, Innovation, Talent Management and Behavioral Risk, Gender & Generational Diversity in Leadership, and the Global Race for Talent. I think you’ll find it to be an informative and eye-opening weekend read!
Here are some of my thoughts on the major points brought to light in the study ~
First, an opening word on People Intelligence. SHL defines this as, “The intelligence that is delivered through reliable, scientifically valid and objective measures of people’s talents, ranging from their potential to be an effective leader to the specific skills and knowledge required for the thousands of daily transactions that make or break an organization.” As a former member of Naval Intelligence and a seasoned Executive Strategist, this is why our firm is in the sector we chose to be in…human beings are the raw material of value creation in the New Economy. It’s also why we partnered to bring Talent Sprocket (Talent Sprocket Performance Transformation Toss Sheet eVersion) and Democrasoft® (How One Simple Step Can Solve Your Engagement, Inclusion and Collaboration Challenges eVersion) into our open network partnership.
Leadership for Today ~ The great disconnect continues between leaders and associates. Only 1 out of 4 associates believe their organizations have the leadership necessary to succeed in the future. Only 1 out of 3 associates believe their firm has the the top leadership available from within their industry. Leaders are equally concerned about the pool from which they can find the successors to the 76 million Baby Boomers that will be retiring in the coming years.
The study goes on to identify both the transactional skills and transformational skills necessary for effective leadership. These skills include the ability to build effective relationships, analytical and organizational skills, adaptive ability to navigate change, effective communication skills, collaborative influence, lateral creative thinking to deliver new insights, and the drive to see things through. Notice a theme? These are primarily the soft skills that many still roll their eyes at the mention. Feel free to continue to roll your eyes, but take a moment to notice what happens to your field of vision when you do so.
Takeaway ~ Only 6.7%, or 1 in 15 managers, professionals, or global executives have the skills and potential for effective leadership today.
Leadership for Tomorrow ~ Take heart, fore herein lies our future success. One out of three professionals from Gen-X and Gen-Y display some potential (same criteria as above) for effective leadership tomorrow. The challenge lies in identifying the right high potentials and investing in their training and development to translate potential into actuality. U.S. firms best beware, however, because emerging economies have a greater pool on which to draw upon.
Takeaway ~ The question isn’t whether or not their is potential leadership talent, but how intelligent your enterprise is in recognizing that talent and developing it. Currently, only 1 in 15 managers or executives have the potential to become a top leader, but why? A recent CEB study identified that the vast majority of firms overlook the right high potentials because they don’t understand or recognize the contributory skills and aptitudes that are cogent for today and the future. They’re caught looking for the attributes of yesteryear.
Innovation ~ Today’s buzzword, right? We all know this is the key to survival in the future. However, companies are often missing both the recognition of true innovators and cultivating the fertile soil of organizational culture necessary for innovation to translate into commercially viable products and services. The study identifies the behaviors that drive effective innovation that evolve around a mix of focus, insight, networking and collaboration. These include, ability to reason, capacity to think laterally, focus, adaptability, persistence, a capacity to build effective relationships, ability to navigate social networks, influential communications skills, and the ability to impart excitement and passion for the innovation. Pretty similar theme to the leadership attributes listed above, wouldn’t you say? Again, soft skills and creativity reign.
Takeaway ~ Innovation is a strategic imperative. Innovation is, at its very core, about change. Yet 70% of traditional change management programs fail. In addition, only 1 out of 17 graduates and professionals, or 5.8%, have the capacity to become true innovators. How are you going to attract, recruit, retain, reward and acknowledge these rare talents? This is why culture is key. According to a report published by The Economist, this will be the driver of The Third Industrial Revolution. If traditional change management fails, why would you look to traditional organizational and leadership development approaches to drive innovation? It’s a recipe for failure.
Behavioral Risk ~ People take risks, not processes and Talent Management must be seen as a part of Risk Management. Risk comes from hidden biases that stem from a lack of self and social awareness. Again, developing soft skills, at all levels of the organization are key.
Takeaway ~ As the speed of change continues to accelerate, authority and trust must move deeper into the organization. Developing self and social awareness throughout the business mitigates organizational risk.
Gender & Generational Diversity ~ The study demonstrates that the difference between leadership potential for women and men is less than 1% (and it slightly favors women, by the way), yet on a global level men enjoy senior leadership positions by a ratio of 3:1 over women. In the U.S. the figures are exceptionally poor, with 83% of leadership roles held by men. Only places like Japan and countries in the Middle East fare worse.
Generationally, only 30% of Gen-Y’s plan to spend their entire career with one firm. They’re mobile. And they embrace intrinsic values (personal and professional development, authentic relationships, purposefulness, being a part of something larger than themselves) over the extrinsic values of the Baby Boomers (money, power, prestige).
Takeaway ~ I’ll leave the gender diversity issue for Warren Buffett to answer. As to generational diversity, if you’re not strategizing how you’re going to leverage intrinsic values over extrinsic values, you’re holding the door open for your technology natives and future innovators to walk out the door.
The Global Race for Talent~ I’ll let you read this for yourselves. The point I wish to make here is the U.S. ranks 23rd in the world for professionals with the right talents to succeed globally in the coming years.
Takeaway ~ Simply put, the traditional approaches for leadership and organizational development in our country have failed. It’s time for a breath of fresh air and if innovation is important to you, perhaps it’s time to embrace an innovative approach to leadership and organizational development.
© 2013, Terry Murray.