Chief executives who want staff to take the same route they did to success may consign them and their companies to failure.
For instance, a chief executive who felt that being handed a big promotion to a sink-or-swim job “two sizes too large” was what made him into a successful leader will expect his high-potential managers to take on similar challenges. By contrast, one who found her calling while working in a series of broadening roles at one company will prefer to promote people internally rather than appointing outsiders.
Every business requires a range of skills and personality types. A belief that potential can be developed in only one way will exclude valuable people. It also creates potential problems with diversity and inclusion. A chief executive whose approach to talent management is centred on multiple international assignments may inadvertently exclude working mothers from development opportunities, for example.
This point goes well beyond chief executives’ approach to talent management, said Simon Hayward, head of leadership and talent consultancy Cirrus; it can shape their whole leadership style.
“New chief executives are under intense pressure in their first few weeks, which can drive them back towards their default settings, often learnt before they held a leadership role,” he said. “Too often their approach is to go back to doing what they used to do, and doing it harder, rather than finding something new.”
© The Sunday Times 2015