Why Talent is the Most Important Strategy of All (1/3)

In the 20 years we have been working with leaders in the 4th Sector, it has become clear that without exception they have been driven to make a sustainable social impact.

So what stops them from achieving their goals? We consistently hear about three connected problems:

  1. Confused Leadership – a lack of clarity around purpose, vision, values and market position.
  2. Confused Strategy – around the plans for marketing, sales, finance, operations and talent needed to achieve success
  3. Confused Culture – a lack of the clear enterprise mindset and behaviour essential to achieve and sustain scale

As we listen though, it becomes clearer and clearer that at the core of everything is a constant tactical struggle with talent – the people within our organisations.

That’s why when it comes to strategy, long term, high level planning, we passionately believe that the one that rules over all for any leader must be talent.

Money is great. It buys time, it buys equipment, it buys advertising to drive sales. But while all of these are important the reality is that no matter how much money you have if you don’t have the right talent, failure is inevitable. It is a bit like putting someone without a license in a Formula 1 car and expecting them not to crash!

Getting the right people in the right place at the right time is the engine that drives everything

They give you time. The time to think about clear leadership, the time to work on the business rather than in it. The time to focus on what you are good at and the time to create the balance in in your life that is so essential to sanity.

They also perversely give you money. Through better ideas and through better execution. Better ideas on how to do things not just to generate more income but also to spend less time and resource doing so.

The right people in the right place at the right time will not only have the clearest understanding of the needs of the customer, but also how to fulfil them in the most resource efficient way.

Why ‘Talent’?

In the world of entertainment, the ‘talent’ are the people who appear up on stage. Everyone else in the business works to promote, project and protect those talented, creative people. So, using the word ‘talent’ to describe the people who work in your social enterprise might seem a bit of a stretch.

But it’s not. Because, ultimately, however good and useful the idea at the heart of your purpose, vision, values may be, it’s the qualities – the talents – of the people working with you that determines the outcome. It’s the talent that delivers – or not.

And because it’s so vital to your success, it makes it imperative to have a well thought through talent strategy – an overall plan for the recruitment, development and retention of the right people, in the right jobs, doing the right things – so that your organisation can deliver the very best results for your customers.

In Reflection

Take a moment now to consider how much time, energy and money you have spent fire-fighting an issue related to the talent in any level of your organisation from the Board down to the front line.

Now give yourself a mark out of 10 for how well you believe your current Talent Strategy deals with the recruitment, development and retention of talent.

How does that make you feel?


(2/3) Why Measuring Employee Engagement is Key to an Effective Talent Strategy
(3/3) What Are the Real Costs of Poor Talent Decisions?

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