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Finding The Leaders Within

Finding The Leaders Within

Making sure you have the right people in the right job is more important to your company than strategic direction or decisions. Here are four fundamental aspects to building a solid people process

Excerpted from Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done, by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan.

Copyright 2002 by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan.

If you don't get the people process right, you will never fulfil the potential of your business. The people process is more important than either the strategic planning and decision-making or operations management processes. After all, it's the people in an organisation who make judgements about how markets are changing, create strategies based on those judgements and translate strategies into operational realities.

A robust people process does three things. It evaluates individuals accurately and in depth. It provides a framework for identifying and developing the different types of leadership talent the organisation will need to execute its strategies down the road. It also fills the leadership pipeline that is the basis of a strong succession plan.

Very few companies accomplish all of those objectives well. One of the biggest shortcomings of the traditional people process is that it's backward-looking, focused on evaluating the jobs people are doing today. Far more important is whether the individuals can handle the jobs of tomorrow. We have seen many people who led business units well who did not have the capability to take the business to the next level. Companies often wait until the financial results are in before making corrections in key leadership positions. By then, the damage is done. The results are lagging indicators.

These kinds of decisions - putting the wrong people in place to execute a key part of a business's strategy - are common. Whether they're expanding abroad or launching a new domestic plan, far too many leaders don't ask the most basic questions: Who are the people who are going to execute that strategy, and can they do it? The strategy can be all right by itself, but the company may have no hope of executing it.

Identifying the match between the right person and the right job is not always a clear-cut case. Sometimes it means replacing an excellent performer with a person who is better equipped to take the business to the next level. Sometimes the problem is clear, but it should have been avoided with earlier action. A leader who achieves his numbers at the expense of the organisation can do a great deal of damage. It's not hard to identify the person who is wrong for a job because of his behaviour, but it's better to make sure such a person doesn't rise to a critical job in the first place.

Early feedback on behaviour can have a major impact on your competitiveness. In many organisations, to create the discipline of execution, changes in behaviour are needed at even the highest levels.

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