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January 21, 2014

Challenges in Retaining Leadership

Irrespective of economic conditions, focus to retain talent continues to be a Key challenge for any business. It's important to retain leadership, and not necessarily people in leadership roles.
Jeff Immelt (Chairman & CEO, General Electric) said -“Leaders Protect people from danger … but expose them to reality”.
Let’s follow Immelt’s lead and look at reality:
  • Leadership nowadays is more of title/stripe thing instead of bouquet of skills and behaviors. It is synonymous with earlier term of Management. Resulting in continuous reinforcement that unless one is at certain role, cadre or title, one isn’t a leader.
  • Management and support functions HR, finance etc continue to operate from Parent –Child position w.r.t. Employees.
  • Management talk (rhetoric) mostly reinforces behaviors contrary to stated values of Business. E.g., most businesses have Respect for Individual, Team Work, Integrity and so on as their values, whereas most common phrases used by management are Whatever it takes, go grab .., give more than 100% (??) etc.
  • We continue to teach, glorify and reinforce animal spirit and behaviors through so called motivational speeches, metaphors and well developed Leadership Training programs. Expecting people to be humane and develop people skills?
  • Headlines culture leads to increased importance of self projection, packaging and opportunism. We are all for concise and specific communication but all this 10/20 words tweet style communiqué is good for tag line, smart people and ideas are grounded in information and facts, requiring people to interact with patience.
  • As society becomes more sensitive to needs of special groups (women, religious minorities, LGBT, veterans etc.), there is more pressure on businesses to be seen politically aligned. Leading to “politically correct” response from business leadership (including HR) instead of customer centric and business correct policies.(earlier blog Diversity: HR Focus and Trends 2014)
  • While enormous bytes are written and shared about Innovation, productivity, empowerment and creativity. At the same time Employee handbooks, policy manuals, SOPs continue to grow in size.
We all are clear on why retention is important. I have shared a perspective about WHAT to retain. Plato once said – “A life unexamined is not worth living”.
I sign off, having examined the WHAT part.
Watch this space for HOW!! A wise man said – “There is no try only do”. I shall be back with what to do soon. In the meantime please share your ideas, perspective and feedback.
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Warm Regards,

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