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Leadership in the new Normal

Good article by McKinsey on how CEOs and other leaders can succeed in the new environment:

Covid has accelerated some of the trends that were already evident, e.g., more home working, and, as with any change, there will be winners and losers. The winners will be those who recognise the emerging trends and are agile enough to adapt quickly. The 5 priorities identified by McKinsey offer a good starting point.

It is the third of the 5 new priorities, 'Cultivate Your Talent', that I want to comment on here. All too often, talent development is done in a haphazard manner with little thought given to longer-term business outcomes. What is required is a more holistic approach that factors in the needs of the organisation (now and in the future) and the desires of the individual. There are many studies that show that the modern workforce values professional development highly and, with a lack of skilled people commonly cited as a hindrance to growth, it makes sense to invest the necessary time and money cultivating current, engaged staff.

A common mistake is to assume that they want what you (the leader) would want if you were in their shoes. in reality, we have different motivations and preferences when it comes to career and employment choices. A good question to ask is: "How well do I really know my direct reports?" Psychometrics such as SDI2.0 and DiSC can help here because they surface motivations, preferred behaviours, reactions to conflict, etc. However, on their own, they are not enough. It is not coincidental that the vast majority of growing companies invest in coaching and mentoring: if staff are more engaged and their personal development is closely aligned with business goals, the benefits to both parties are obvious. This is particularly important when considering future leaders: many are still unprepared for the different skills sets required when they step up to the executive level.

Cultivating talent at all levels is not a soft or woolly activity: it takes time and effort. However, the rewards make the investment worthwhile.

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