Finding world-class talent requires a partnership with a trusted outside advisor. Visit TRANSEARCH International to discover our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition.

Five TOP leadership competencies

"The shortage of talent"

It's a pretty good bet that, as you read this, somewhere in your competitor's camp there is an ongoing conversation about the qualities that describe tomorrow's leadership. Be it talent acquisition, succession, identifying high potential talent and/or shaping the investment in leadership, one thing is assured … tomorrow will not be a continuation of today.

We commonly see references to "the shortage of talent." Paradoxically, there is no shortage of talent. The growing number of business schools around the world, combined with the billions of dollars spent globally on leadership development means that there is actually a surfeit of candidates. The problem? The vast majority of those candidates are a great fit for a business environment that served us well in the past.

TOP Talent

A more integrated, faster and, by a quantum step, more complex business environment demands not just a new way to think and act but a new definition of "leadership success." Exponential change fuelled by ongoing leaps in technology … exacerbated by unprecedented disruption on a global scale … is, indelibly, redefining what is meant by the term "TOP Talent."

As we move into unchartered territory - where only those organisations that are fast, flat, flexible, focused and fertile (to new ideas) will survive - TOP (Transforming, Outstanding, Performance tested) Talent refers to those fully equipped to excel in a, hitherto unknown, level of business and societal uncertainty.

TOP leadership competencies

Other than know-how in technology, which is a given, leadership competencies differ depending upon the role. This emphasises the need to develop "role-specific" leadership competencies. Generic competencies have value, e.g., the broad leadership development agenda, but they are less than useful, however, when making hiring and succession decisions. That understood, five TOP leadership competencies are emerging as having future primacy:

  • A Passion to Learn
  • Leadership Reach
  • Comfort with Ambiguity
  • Resilience
  • Culture Savvy

In a world dominated by ideas, a move from cooperation to collaboration is essential - and inevitable. The environment and a new generation dominating the workplace mean that tribal loyalty will, of necessity, give way to a stronger sense of community. A community mindset, meanwhile, ushers in the dominance of stakeholder capital. How does your team make a difference in people's lives?

Although many are served by a more defused definition, "employee engagement" is about building a culture where opportunity and capability are aligned. To that end, any falloff in the fit between the speed of change in the business environment and a sense of personal growth - a perceived lack of currency in the job market - will quickly disillusion those the organisation most wants to retain. Why do your best people stay?

Finally, the fallibility of strategy means that, rather than being the by-product of a singular, linear direction, the organisation's culture must enable a range of potential future options to unfold. Becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable becomes the new norm.

Insights by John Burdett. Orxestra Inc., © 2018.

Insights from "Tomorrow's Leadership Will Be Different".

What Value Creation Should You Expect From an Executive Search Provider?

Taking talent acquisition to the next level

In a world marked by speed of change, doing what we have always done, better (value added) ... is not enough. The right search partner will deliver the ideas, capability and experience to help you take talent acquisition to the next level.

Without access to best practice, forging new ways to think becomes an uphill battle. Without new questions learning is limited. Where successful role models are missing, our extraordinary ability to copy what works cannot kick in. And when thought leadership is little more than "a consulting label" creating tomorrow today becomes a bridge too far. There is clearly a good deal to gain, therefore, from working with best-in-class, external resources.

7 critical areas of distinct value

At a minimum, in addition to sector expertise and international capability, the search provider must deliver distinct value in seven critical areas:

  1. Bring creativity and flair when it comes to attracting top talent.
  2. Help the client "measure" the culture they have today (roots) and the culture the organisation needs moving forward (wings).
  3. Leading-edge tools to build a robust, balanced scorecard for the position.
  4. Develop role-specific competencies for the role in question.
  5. Provide a meaningful process to determine team fit. As with culture, this implies measurement.
  6. Coach inexperienced line managers in how to conduct the interview.
  7. Bring support and appropriate tools to the integration process, and that means a good deal more than the perfunctory call to see if the newly hired candidate is doing okay.

The organisation's story underscores a successful hiring value proposition. Central to that story are the hiring organisation's values. Unfortunately, although the majority of organisations claim to have "organisation values," in many instances, they amount to little more than window dressing. To "win" top talent over even a great story may not be enough. A best-in-class search professional draws out why high performers stay and leverages that insight to inspire the candidate who is happy where they are.

The approach to measuring culture needs to reflect the context. By way of example, an organisation confronting transformational change faces a very different challenge to that of a successful business seeking to better manage the culture they have. It is also important - and especially so in talent acquisition - that the approach describes the cultural journey in business terms.

You can't manage what you don't measure. Talent acquisition devoid of a robust measure of the culture the organisation needs to compete tomorrow … amounts to little more than the hiring executive's "best guess." For a unique and compelling measure of organisation culture see - The A-Z Of Organization Culture. John O. Burdett (2017).

Developing role-specific competencies implies a library of relevant and up-to-date leadership competencies. It also means a proven leadership model that ensures that the competencies identified deliver "leadership balance." For a measure of leadership balance, see John O. Burdett, Attract, Select, Develop & Retain TALENT (2013). Balance denotes fit in four critical leadership areas:

  1. Direction,
  2. Discipline of Delivery,
  3. Development of people, and
  4. Day-to-day Dialogue.

This simple leadership template is the outcome of asking 15,000 leaders in 40 countries, "What do you NEED from a leader?" It is framed in The Orxestra® Methodology: the head (direction); the hand (delivery); the heart (development of people); and the spirit (day-to-day dialogue).

The best candidate vs. the right candidate

Talent acquisition cannot thrive in a vacuum. It's an integral part of the overall talent management system. If you hire great people and coaching is a hard-to-find skill, assume a higher attrition rate than might be expected. If "succession" is poorly thought through expect to go outside for talent more often than is good for the organisation's health. And if the leadership development agenda is found wanting, know that over-hiring for virtually every position will be a given.

The implications are profound. When the seven dimensions of distinct value (offered by the executive search provider) are either missing or short-changed and where the search is delivered as a tactical "replacement" - not as strategic and integral to the client's overall talent management system - the inevitable, default outcome is to hire the best and not the right candidate.

Uncovering the best candidate is, essentially, a beauty contest. It's the corporate version of the popular NBC talent show America's Got Talent. If they look and sound good, give them a ticket to Vegas. On the other hand, finding the right candidate is a matchless investment in building tomorrow's leadership bench strength … today.

Building a BRAND mindset

For many service providers business development is perceived as a kind of wrestling match … where the next sale, overcoming objections and asking for the order become the name of the game.

Delivering all of the elements of fit, landing the right candidate is predicated on a supplier/client relationship that goes beyond "winning the sale." It speaks of a trust-based partnership where long-term success is based on the search provider understanding the client's emerging business need as well as the client does. It defines a way to work where making the client's business better always takes precedence. It builds on a mindset where BRAND means Better Results And No Disappointment.

Successful business development ultimately draws on one simple question, "What do we have to do to ensure that the client views us not as a supplier but as truly part of their team?

Finding world-class talent requires a partnership with a trusted outside advisor. Visit TRANSEARCH International to discover our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and development.

Insights by John Burdett. Orxestra Inc., © 2019.

Insights from "Talent Acquisition - The Battle For Tomorrow".

The Interview - Making Talent Acquisition a Competitive Advantage

Interview mastery essentials

The vast majority of those who hold down leadership roles have only a rudimentary understanding of how to interview. If you don't believe me ask your key executives when they last received interview training! Without instruction, guidance and feedback, doing something often doesn't necessarily make you better at it. And what we learn from doing it wrong … is how to get better at doing it wrong. The irony is that many candidates are now far better prepared for the interview than the time-stretched hiring manager.

Where interview mastery is missing (there is nothing more important to team success than who is hired!), the fallback position is that the position goes to the candidate with the best résumé. Unfortunately, all too often, who/what turns up to start work on Monday isn't a great candidate … it's an empty suit. For every hour inappropriately stripped out of the hiring process expect to spend at least 100 hours attempting to "fix" a candidate identified in haste. That such efforts invariably fail only adds to the frustration.

The interview is both a science and an art

The push to make "fit" increasingly a game of numbers is inevitable. It's a mistake, however, to dilute the role intuition and judgement play. The interview as a science is manifest in the evidence-based interview™. This draws on the widely accepted assumption that past performance is the best guide to future success.

The interview as an art explores 5Cs:

  • Character - response to the unexpected … resilience.
  • Chemistry - fit/adjustment with the team in mind.
  • Congruency - does the candidate's body language, attitude and overall approach match his/her story?
  • Compatibility - does the candidate's speed of learning complement the speed of change in the marketplace?

Interactive software, leveraging big numbers and evermore scientific approaches to fit are both meaningful and inevitable. Conversely, overriding 150,000 years of social evolution is to ignore behavioural filters that, in an unpredictable world, are more important than ever.

Insights by John Burdett. Orxestra Inc., © 2019.

Insights from "Talent Acquisition - The Battle For Tomorrow".

Know What You Are Looking For - Making Talent Acquisition a Competitive Advantage

The critical dimensions of fit

Talent acquisition is ultimately about managing risk. Risk, in turn, is about fit. There are five critical dimensions of fit:

  1. Fit with the organisation's values.
  2. Culture fit - this implies measurement of today's culture and the culture the organisation needs to be successful in the future.
  3. Performance fit - building a scorecard for the role.
  4. Leadership fit - role-specific competencies.
  5. Team fit - this demands a meaningful assessment of the team.

Even if you are driving a Ferrari; if one of the four wheels and/or the steering wheel is missing … you are not going to go very far.

The organisation's values represent the CEO's and, by implication, the leadership point of view of the top team. The challenge being that although many organisations proport to have robust organisation values for perhaps the majority they amount to little more than window dressing. Where the organisation's values are either absent or only of secondary importance the default action is to shape behaviour by introducing "rules." Rules not only ensure that even simple decisions take longer to make but they quickly become enforceable boundaries that those who are interested in protecting "turf" are quick to erect.

For a measure of the team, see John O. Burdett, TEAM: Align, Build, Connect & Develop (2015). The "Taking Your Team to the Next Level" Assessment looks at the team through four distinct lenses:

  1. What does the team need to know?
  2. How effective is the team leader?
  3. Where and how can those on the team become better team players?
  4. What does the team need to do to accelerate through the performance/learning curve?

Leadership competencies

Generic leadership competencies answer the question, "What does it mean to be a successful leader in this organisation?" Role-specific leadership competencies answer the question, "What does it mean to be a successful leader in this role?" There is a time and place for improvisation and informed guesswork. That said, an apt definition might describe such a behaviour as "gambling." Defining success in a key role that has just become open isn't the time to wager a bet. A miss-hire can easily end up costing 15 times or even 20 times the annual salary. This is to say nothing of the opportunity cost, the disruption to the team and/or those times when hiring a key executive amounts to betting the business.

Somewhere in orchestrating fit a new reality emerges. For the first time since the birth of the Industrial Revolution, the team has truly become the building block of organisational success. The network organisation, the power of expertise, the speed of change, the need to release the creativity and talent of employees at every level, the portability of talent, and that innovation is indelibly linked to diversity and the freedom to act, all mean that we need super teams far more than superstars.

President Teddy Roosevelt suggested that leadership meant, "Talking softly and carrying a big stick." The only reason a team leader should carry a big stick today is to strike themselves sharply around the head, if for a moment they forgets that they work for the team … not that the team works for them.

Insights by John Burdett. Orxestra Inc., © 2019.

Insights from "Talent Acquisition - The Battle For Tomorrow".

Attraction - Making Talent Acquisition a Competitive Advantage

Where "attraction" starts

Uncovering and then attracting outstanding talent is, for the majority of business leaders, the human resource equivalent of a wing and a prayer. This represents a huge talent acquisition shortfall. No matter the quality and level of investment in the rest of the talent process, the simple truth is you can't hire talent you don't attract.

"Attraction" starts with good research. With social media and AI destined to play an ever-bigger role and as algorithms get better, a good deal of that covered under the term "sourcing talent" will be automated.

For example, HireVue offers AI-based, video analysis of the candidate's facial expressions, body language and tone of voice to conduct on-demand interviews. Predictive analytics, on-line psychometrics using advanced algorithms overcome interviewer bias. Chatbots can conduct initial, virtual, screening interviews. Data mining algorithms can delve into, virtually, every aspect of the candidate's background. Unilever, for example, by 2019 had already put 250,000 candidates through an algorithm-driven selection process. Blockchain technology, acting on behalf of the candidate, lies around the corner.

The promise of digitalisation is about to become fact.

First contact and beyond

Early in the hiring process, no matter how the candidate was identified, comes the, so important, first contact. The executive you want is unlikely to be the one who is eager to jump ship. Outstanding leaders are successful where they are. Their response to an initial overture is likely to be, "I have a great job here, why should I join ABC Company?" The organisation's reputation, the company's website, the right information succinctly delivered and the ability of the caller to share the organisation's story (hiring brand) all help the cause. That said, for top candidates these provide only part of the answer.

What the reluctant candidate really wants to know is, "What is it really like to work in this business you are representing?" You can invite me to drink the Kool-Aid, I'll visit the showroom and I'll even wear the T-shirt, but tell me, what's this organisation really all about? What's under the hood?" Enter stage left a simple insight … what keeps top talent attracts top talent.

Inspiration rests, in no small measure, on the perception that what we are being told is authentic. Seasoned leaders are quick to recognise even a whiff of bovine effluent. The recruiter, be they working from within the firm or not, clearly has a vested interest in gilding the lily. Meanwhile, if the recruiter (researcher) works for an external provider (e.g., executive search), any response that describes what the hiring organisation is really like to work for - that is anything less than totally authentic - comes across as little more than a warmed-over version of what the candidate expects to hear. And don't imagine for a moment that the candidate doesn't hear "the sell" in every phrase and nuance of what they are being "sold." Nothing beats presenting the facts. Nothing has the emotional impact of the truth simply presented. Nothing is more influential than an authentic voice.

Inspire top performers

Convey the right information and the candidate is informed. Introduce the organisation's story and the candidate starts to get involved. Share why the organisation's top talent chooses to stay and the candidate is inspired. The very best candidates are reluctant to move. It's not enough to inform. It's not enough to involve. To attract top performers … you have to inspire them.

Insights by John Burdett. Orxestra Inc., © 2019.

Insights from "Talent Acquisition - The Battle For Tomorrow".

12 Cultural Shifts Taking Place in Leading-Edge Organisations

12 cultural shifts taking place in leading-edge organisations:

  • The "plan" >> Strategic scenarios
  • Superstars >> Super teams
  • Strategy drives culture >> Culture enables strategy
  • The team works for the leader >> The leader works for the team
  • Structure: hierarchical >> Structure: network centred
  • Team: homogenous >> Team: multicultural
  • The one best way >> Comfort with ambiguity
  • Expertise >> Speed of learning
  • If it ain't broke don't fix it >> Introduce disruptive technologies
  • Change management >> Reframe mindsets
  • Enrich the tribe >> Build community
  • Steady state >> Embrace complexity

Insights from "Talent Acquisition - The Battle For Tomorrow"

The Need for Talent Acquisition to be Strategic

The need for talent acquisition to be strategic lies in sharp contrast to simply finding a replacement for the leader who is currently/was most recently in the role. The mystery inside the riddle that lies at the heart of the hiring process is that although there is a veritable army of potential candidates, few amongst those available are TOP (Tested, Outstanding, Performers) talent.

When digital direction, managing complexity, speed of learning, a network-centric mindset and comfort with ambiguity are combined with strategic thinking, financial savvy, results orientation and coaching as performance imperatives, it is truly a case of from the many available … to the few who are truly qualified.

The challenge of finding senior level executives is best met with the support of a firm with a proven track record of success. The tools that TRANSEARCH International use provide a unique perspective regarding culture, leadership, team and performance "fit". And our integration methodology ensures that new leaders are integrated quickly and successfully without breaking stride.

Insights from "Talent Acquisition - The Battle For Tomorrow".

The Key Challenges and Opportunities in Human Resources - A Study by TRANSEARCH Romania

"Never let a good crisis go to waste" as Winston Churchill famously said. COVID-19 and the impact on people, operations and business give us an impetus to develop fresh ideas in Human Resources and to review Leadership Skills.

During the last weeks we received valuable feedback from our clients and candidates; their approach to the ongoing changes, and how they intend to come out of this crisis even stronger!

We are delighted to share our findings with you. The original survey was conducted distributing a questionnaire; to over 300 CEOs, Managing Directors and Human Resources Managers in Romania and across Europe.

Key Findings:

  • Maintaining efficiency while working from home
  • Maintaining motivation and engagement
  • Improving organization's agility and flexibility
  • Leading through change with an entrepreneurial spirit underpinned by emotional intelligence
  • Need for profiles in Automatization/Robotics, Digitalization and Transformation/Change

For more information please visit TRANSEARCH International Romania on LinkedIn.

Human Capital as an Asset

"The devastating labour-market impact of the pandemic and the need for governments to step in and provide extensive support have made it clear that a financially incentivized business model driven by short-term wins no longer works; public and media focus on how companies manage their human capital resources is intensifying."

This report from the World Economic Forum seeks to provide a human capital accounting framework that values talent as a key asset to contribute to an organisation's sustained value creation.

Read "Human Capital as an Asset" leadership insights

Critical talent management actions

Talent management is a system within a system: the organisation's culture. Get talent management wrong and the organisation's culture will be misaligned with the customer's emerging needs. Critical talent management actions to turn the organisation's talent management approach into a competitive advantage include:

  • Leadership development
  • Coaching
  • Mentoring
  • Storytelling
  • Performance management
  • Succession and replacement
  • Talent acquisition
  • Team excellence

Tomorrow, of necessity, talent management will be about resilience, reinvention and recognising that the ideal organisation design reflects how, given a choice, people would choose to work together. Investing in the most efficient way to develop talent, putting muscle behind the succession process and, generally, building a cadre of leadership talent, will allow your business to survive and thrive in turbulent times.

Insights from "Future-Oriented Leadership Competencies: Today's Talent Management Lynchpin" by John Burdett, Leadership advisor to TRANSEARCH International.

Where the interviewee is truly a top candidate both parties are being fully evaluated

Where the interviewee is truly a top candidate both parties are being fully evaluated. As a recruiter, there are candidate questions that you must know how to answer. Although by no means replete, in some ways, the 10 questions outlined are an acid test of how prepared you are for the turbulent talent management path that lies ahead.

10 candidate questions from "Great Candidates Ask Great Questions"

Insights from "Great Candidates Ask Great Questions" by John Burdett.