Coaching Leadership


To perform well and be successful over the long term, companies must manage talent strategically, i.e., align talent management with organizational vision and strategy. But this is not enough. Companies must also tailor talent management to the unique needs of their best employees and leaders, i.e., their learning needs, career aspirations, and potential.

The field of Human Resources made a huge leap forward when it transitioned from being administrative to strategic. We can see very clearly now that the way we manage talent has an enormous impact on the success of an organization—both short term results and long term viability. The lesson: proactively design HR systems and programs to drive, reinforce, and sustain vision and strategy.

The subsequent war for talent, however, taught us that a strategic approach is not enough. To keep our best people—and to keep them fully engaged, productive and developing—we also have to customize our HR systems and programs for their unique needs. The lesson: tailor our work for the unique needs of the people who are doing the work and running our businesses.

World class talent management is all about two things:

  1. The business: the success of the organization and
  2. The people: the success of our employees and leaders.

The Business: 

First, we manage talent for the business. The question here is: What kind of talent do we need and how can we best manage that talent to achieve our vision and execute our strategy, i.e., achieve desired results, drive the strategic agenda forward and maintain our competitive advantage and long term viability?

Almost everyone agrees that people are an organization’s most important asset. And yet very few companies think about their talent strategically or manage their talent with any rigor. Think about a few organizations you know:

  • Do they know how good their leaders are or how good they need to be?
  • Do all leaders know what is expected of them and how the core leadership competencies are anchored in vision and strategy, and in the daily work that needs to get done?
  • How often and how rigorously do they audit their leadership development and talent management practices?
  • Are they holding leaders accountable for the quality of talent on their teams?
  • Do all leaders have both performance and development goals?
  • And do leaders have human resource plans, i.e., concrete plans for engaging, developing and retaining the talent they need to get the job done and for feeding the corporate talent pipeline?

Investing wisely in talent management yields both short term business results and helps drive long term organizational success.

We must all do a better job of developing talent strategically; aligning development with the big picture; using talent management to drive the business forward. Tagline: The talent we need to win; and the best talent where it counts most! 

The People: 

We also need to manage talent and customize our development programs for the unique needs of the individuals and teams that are doing the work and running the business. The question here is: How can I help each of my leaders:

  1. be as productive as possible (performance),
  2. be fully engaged in his or her work (engagement and retention),
  3. prepare for greater levels of responsibility and service (development),
  4. and fully achieve his or her potential—human potential, career aspirations and career potential?

Think of your organization’s leaders and of your highest performing leaders (the top 20%). Picture them—the real people. You must ensure that you are not only developing people in general and developing the skills your organization needs to succeed—which of course is crucial. You also need to develop these top leaders so they can perform their best, become more and more valuable to your organization, achieve their potential and stay with your firm as long as possible.

Team Level Analogy:

When I talk to leaders about performance management (which I define generally as “helping people set and achieve meaningful goals”), I counsel them to respect and practice two principles:

Frist, never make it personal.  Criticism should never be a personal attack but must be constructive, i.e., helpful, actionable and focused on the opportunity for improvement and on doing the right thing for your team and organization.

Second, make it very personal in the sense of helping real people on your team be successful. As a leader, you need to know the names of your employees and care about their success. In this way, you have to make it very personal—helping real people be successful on your team and in your organization.

The exact same logic applies to managing talent: it is both about the business and the people.


The strategic approach helps your business compete and win, i.e., remain competitive and viable over the long term and the people approach helps you get the most out of your best people—and earn their best efforts and loyalty.

We need to work talent management and leadership development from both angles simultaneously and do so proactively. Both approaches need solid management, from needs assessment and program design to continuous improvement. And both approaches need to complement each other and align with the big picture.

Developing & retaining talent is a strategic imperative. Don’t wait for the cream to rise to the top—merely hoping the fittest will survive. The new imperative is “proactive development of the fittest.”

Give Advanture a call. We would be happy to help you take your leadership development practices up the next level.

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