A panel of CEOs at a recent function were complaining that technology leaders do not understand the business, that they talk technology-speak and preside over major project blow outs. I had the opportunity to ask them in the Q&A session what they were doing to build the leadership capability of their technology leaders to address those problems. I was disappointed to discover that aside from some vague ideas about external leadership programs, they did not have talent development on their radar.
In the book, Talent Wins, the authors suggest that game-changing businesses like Apple, Google and BlackRock are as focused on talent as they are on strategy and finance. BlackRock, the largest investment manager in the world, uses a criterion in evaluations of top executives which is their ability to create new leaders. Chief talent officer Matt Breitfelder is quoted in the book, “By design, we create some social pressure in the organization by asking our managers, ‘Yeah, you think of yourself as a leader, but what’s your track record? Name the people that you’ve developed’.”
Businesses have high expectations of their technology leaders, but seem unwilling to invest in developing their leadership capability. It is surprising when the evidence shows that those companies that develop strategic leadership capability in their technology leaders will outperform their competitors in the marketplace. In fact, developing the talent pool of technology leaders is surely fundamental to the competitiveness of every business.
But it’s a two-way street. Instead of waiting to be recognised for their strategic importance, technology leaders can take matters into their own hands. Our own Big Kahuna Leadership Survey found that the market demand for game-changing leaders will grow dramatically as technology continues to accelerate. Technology leaders who build their leadership capability will have a competitive edge in the employment market and reap the rewards.
In a recent example, Charles, who heads a technology department, invested in his own leadership development to demonstrate to his team his commitment to continuous improvement. He was already an effective leader but he wanted to expand his leadership capability to make a bigger impact. As it turned out, the breakthrough for him was to let go of solving many of the day to day issues and focus instead on the bigger problem of how to nurture and develop the talent in his team. They have responded positively to the shift in his leadership mindset and are generating and implementing innovative ideas which are being adopted organisation-wide. Talented people are changing the game.
Are you developing your talent?
Best regards, Brian
PS: Want to develop your talent in 2018? Contact us for a free 30 minute leadership diagnostic.