Business success is a journey, leadership is the compass

That suitable candidates can be found from outside the company’s industry is beyond doubt; they may even have an advantage over industry insiders. Their advantage is the ability to ask embarrassing questions while taking nothing for granted. Successful cross-industry movers acknowledge that their first job is to listen, then listen some more. The reinvigorated executive team around the new leader stops making assumptions and starts to question old habits. They may also acknowledge that new technology, new legislation and the emergence of a new consumer are having major impact on their sector. There are no guarantees of success, however. Outsiders don’t always work miracles.

Pros are accompanied by cons.

The ‘safe’ industry insider does not have to go through a period of intensive familiarisation with a new industry and its dynamics. He or she can hit the ground running. In contrast, the outsider faces a steep learning curve. Suddenly, evolution seems safer than revolution. Continuity seems a better bet than a thorough shake-up.

Stay open-minded.

When recruiting leaders, don’t ignore the importance of diversity to balance your team. Remember generation, gender, race, religion and so forth. Businesses with diverse workforces will have a strategic advantage in the marketplace.

It is difficult to attract executive talent. It is easy to lose executive talent.

Offering opportunities to grow and giving leaders room to express themselves remain key to executive retention. This is according to Michelle Moss, director of Leadership Assessment Consulting at Signium Africa.

There are also other ways business leaders can meet their employees’ needs and foster employee satisfaction to support retention.

Give them the permission to dream up new ideas and different ways of doing things. Of course, the boss still needs to keep a bird’s eye view of what is going on and provide advice and guidance whenever necessary to ensure ultimate success.

Make work meaningful because most employees want to identify with the vision, the mission and the goals of the company they work for. As business leader, make sure that these are communicated often and that all leaders walk the talk.

Pay your employees what they are worth. Reward and recognition is still critically important in the workplace. A fair trade is important to most people.

Business success is a journey, leadership is the compass. Leaders should develop talent strategies for the right reasons, and not just to tick a compliance box. It is worthwhile remembering that we are dealing with individuals who should be esteemed in the workplace.

A leader is a dealer in hope – Napoleon Bonaparte.

* Annelize van Rensburg is a founder and director of Signium Africa, previously Talent Africa, a leading provider of integrated talent solutions and leadership development in sub-Saharan Africa, e-mail: annelize.vanrensburg@signium.co.za

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