Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Identifying (and Developing) Top Talent

Great post by Seth Green of Social Edge, called Identifying (and Developing) Top Talent.

Seth's site talks about social entrepreneurship, a movement or concept that I think has a lot to say to leaders in all realms, not just social justice. Specifically his question about Fortune 500 CEOs struck a chord, given my work with them:

"Is there something that the private sector can learn from the personalized nature of evaluating social entrepreneurs? Should more Fortune 500 CEOs be judged on their sincerity and passion?"

Seth asks what competencies we would use to evaluate leaders, and how we would measure success or failure with these competencies. I am a non-profit lifer turned corporate leadership consultant, and I work a lot with corporate leaders to develop an awareness of their "inner social entrepreneur". A lot of times, the traits are innate: having authenticity and integrity, being comfortable with risk and challenging the dominant paradigm, and leading with an entrepreneurial quality. These characteristics, whether innate or learned with help, I believe are necessary for the leaders of the future in these companies, especially as the companies themselves struggle to become more transparent about their business practices. It also pushes companies to become more responsible corporate citizens. They are getting on board, slowly in some cases, but the movement is afoot.

What's compelling much of the activity I describe is of course Generation Y incoming talent, and its demands on the corporate world for the same characteristics ... integrity, responsibility, an inspirational place to work, and an openness to the contributions of talent at all levels, regardless of age, tenure, or experience. My hope is that the massive numbers of young people with different values than the dominant corporate paradigm will keep demanding a different relationship with their employer, and their leaders, and that this will result in a redefinition of how leadership has been defined (top-down, father knows best, homogenous/non-multi-cultural, etc.).

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