Talent in the Age of Disruption
.It is passion which makes people dream the impossible dream, reach for the stars, not give up in the face of overwhelming odds and adversity, and keep getting up each time one stumbles and falls.
We are living in the Age of Disruption - disruption from shifts in technology, demographics, climate change, globalization and geo-politics.
It may come as no surprise to you if I were to suggest that at the heart of companies that do well in this “new normal” of disruption, is their talent. And the question that I would like to address is how we can unleash the potential of talent in disruptive times. Needless to say, any discussion on talent has to take into account the rise of the millennials, who will increasingly dominate the workforce.
We recently conducted a study to find out what needs to be done to unleash the potential of the talent in any organization.
This study entailed talking to large numbers of millennials and non-millennials, focused group discussions, a survey of the latest management literature and discussions with academics in leading business schools across the world. What emerged was that talent performs best when it has a sense of belongingness vis-à-vis the organization, where its voice is heard and respected, where there is constant opportunity to learn and keep advancing in his/her career, where there is a possibility of rich and varied experiences across functions, businesses and geographies and where people feel that they are contributing and making a difference to the organization.
To achieve these conditions we clearly need to have business and human capital strategies with the accompanying processes, system and metrics to implement these strategies. Having said that, what truly differentiates an organization and brings out the best in talent (given the above conditions) is the level of passion / motivation. This is the real differentiator. It is passion which makes people dream the impossible dream, reach for the stars, not give up in the face of overwhelming odds and adversity, and keep getting up each time one stumbles and falls.
As we peeled the onion we discovered that two things create passion : the meaning that we experience at work and the empowerment that we get, and these two in turn are heavily dependent on the culture of the organization – and culture is nothing but the way people behave in everyday life, especially as they go about taking business decision. It is what Sumantro Ghoshal famously referred to as “the smell of the place”.
If culture is all about behavior, what are the behaviours that will create meaning and empowerment in everyday life and thereby the passion to unleash the potential of talent in the age of disruption ?
We identified 5 behaviours
- Using the whole mind -where in any situation you seamlessly and effortlessly combine the left brain and the right brain. The left brain of logic, intellect and rationality, with the right brain of passion, intuition, connection and empathy.
- Being a multiplier - of energy, passion, engagement and a sense of ownership. That happens when you are not the absolute command and control type who has a compulsive need to show that you are the best in every situation and that you have all the answers . When you have respect for others, when you listen, when you focus on asking the right questions and then co-creating the answers with your colleagues and your cohorts. When you get genuine joy out of seeing a thousand flowers bloom. That’s a multiplier.
- Managing fear and leveraging failure – This is all about innovation. Innovation requires you to experiment and take risk, and you cannot do that if there is a culture of fear. So you have to overcome your own fear and you have to create the conditions where other people can overcome their fear so that they can experiment and take risk. Equally important is to learn from failure because when you take risk and experiment there is bound to be failure. What is important is not how many times you fail, but what you learn from the failure and use it as a stepping stone for success. In management jargon it is all about rapid prototyping, early failure, quick feedback loops and then getting on with life.
- Mindfulness – It’s about being open to all possibilities that exists in any situation and not being a prisoner of your own past, either success or failure. It is about being truly open and listening deeply to the voice of the consumers, the voice of employees, the voice of competition, the voice of the winds of technological change. This requires the ability to be fully in the here and now.
- Trust – Last but not least it’s about creating trust through authenticity. Do you say what you think and do you do what you say? It is about aligning thinking, doing and being, about walking the talk , about removing the mask. It is ultimately about speaking and living the truth as you see it. In fact, if you are not able to create trust, then no matter what other things you do it is highly unlikely that you will be able to create the meaning and empowerment which result in passion and consequent sustained outperformance.
In conclusion, I believe that if leaders live the 5 behaviors mentioned above, they will create a truly powerful ecosystem which will bring out the best in talent, especially the millennials, in the Age of Disruption.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house
Around The World