YQ 2016 Issue 11
identifying & developing potential
In this edition... 04
Delivering the goods. How can you ensure your expensive emerging leadership programme actually delivers? Nik Kinley has the answers.
Banking on talent. Steve DennerStewart and Hayley Sheppard report on how YSC helped shape an innovative talent model at a major global bank.
Surfing the talent wave. Cher Hill and Julia Stevenson shine the spotlight on a refreshing replenishment of the pool at Scottish Water.
Crossing the Rubicon. The shift from ‘deliverer’ to ‘leader’ can be tricky, say Maisie Morten and Tony Susa. Here’s how to get it right.
We can be heroes. Nicola Maycock examines how a generation of emerging leaders in China are coping with the challenge of rapid change.
A star is born. Don’t get hung up on past performance, says Shane Crabb. Pure potential counts just as much.
HiPo-thesis. Aoife Kilduff outlines the shape of a successful High Potential programme and examines the latest trends.
Join the coach party. Darin de Klerk on spreading the benefits of coaching.
Bending the curve. CorpU founder, Alan Todd, explains how collaborative learning builds better leaders.
Premier Cru. Emerging talent management is all about bringing on the young, right? Don’t forget the older and wiser, say Joanna Bleau and Jonathan Dean.
A new tool in the talent arsenal. Emmett Gracie on YSC’s landmark tieup with online learning expert, CorpU.
Great expectations. Helping Millennials create diverse and inclusive workplaces is an essential strand of talent management, says Stacy Richardson.
Return of the JDI. Meghan Craig on a tech-charged update to our goldstandard model of potential
Going for gold. Even the whizziest HiPo scheme can come to grief if it clashes with a company’s culture, as Amit Desai and Vijay Gopal report from India.
Around the world. Our global correspondents apply an international lens on the challenge of nurturing emerging leaders.
Editors: Rob Morris & Nik Kinley Consultant editor: Jane Lewis Production executive: Nicola Graham Graphic design: Simon Fincham & Jamie Garrod Additional support: Fiona Page & Rachel Elizabeth Robinson Feedback: please send feedback including ideas for future articles to email@example.com Subscribe: for a complementary subscription to YQ, please register your details at www.ysc.com/yq
Welcome to YQ by Rob Morris
About us... At YSC our mission is to release the power of people. We do this by combining industry leading psychological insight with a thorough understanding of our clients’ business needs. We work with clients across their entire talent lifecycles including: recruitment, induction, development, the identification of potential, internal selection, role change, measurement and departure. Our key client offerings include 1:1 assessment, team development, executive coaching, organisational consulting and the measurement of change.
Confused about what type of talent you need for the future? Well, you’re not alone. The expert advice is hard to sort, and of course this is a direct reflection of the complex and ambiguous nature of work today. We are inundated with information, analytics and well-intentioned assistance from people who want to help us navigate the murky waters with more ease and assuredness than they experienced. A major theme in the troves of talent development advice centres on how businesses can accelerate the development of people. Companies have attempted everything from increasing the mobility of HiPos, enrolment in world class executive education programmes, customised talent development interventions, cohortbased workshops, individualised coaching assignments, OJT (on-the job training), and the list goes on…
to the person and organisational context. This has enabled us to partner with an eclectic array of clients trying to solve this problem. As such, we have seen first-hand how an initiative that works well in one instance can fall short in another. Throughout this issue of YQ, you will hear from our consultants and a few clients about what has worked for them and what we have learned. A word of caution is in order: the case studies and lessons within should be treated as starting points for conversation rather than ‘best practices’ to be emulated. If we’ve learned nothing else, we know that your particular context and the needs of your talent population will be unique. Don’t fall into the trap of expecting past strategies to solve future problems. And be prepared to let go of the notion that you can pull a solution off the shelf and roll it out tomorrow with success. To do this right requires time and an ability to create the right conditions for development to occur in your business, with your talent.
At the centre of this debate, we launched a think tank last year to try to make sense of it all. In framing the challenge, YSC Director Nik Kinley points out that only around 30% of training is thought to be transferred back into the workplace. Despite all of the effort, managers are not confident the investments are paying off. So, at the risk of compounding this challenge by offering yet more advice on the topic, we have compiled years of research and experience into a few thought pieces for you here.
And finally, of course there is a bit of truth in all of the advice out there. You need high performers who can deliver your strategy and you also need learners who can grow and learn with the times. Ideally, you’d like to find these qualities all wrapped up in one person but if you’re finding that hard to do, like so many of us are, then perhaps you can find optimism in the success stories that follow.
We have always maintained the belief that every development initiative should be tailored
Rob Morris, Head of Thought Leadership for YSC T: +1 (0)212 661 9888 / firstname.lastname@example.org 03
DELIVERING THE GOODS by Nik Kinley
How can you ensure your investment in nascent leaders actually leads to a strong talent pipeline? Here Nik Kinley draws on the latest development research to outline four key levers – and dispels some of the myths surrounding the process.
How much faith do you have in your business’ ability to produce the next generation of leaders? Because if you are confident your organisation does it well, you are probably in a minority. That is the suggestion, anyway, of repeated surveys of business leaders which consistently report a lack of satisfaction with attempts to develop emerging leaders.
what we need to do going forwards. The good news is that the research is clear in its findings: it shows that there are four key factors that have a significant impact on the success of development activities. And, fortunately, all four are things organisations can do something about.
There is no shortage of activity. Most firms offer some sort of development activities, and many have accelerated development programmes for those viewed as ‘high-potential’. So where are things going wrong? And what can firms do to ensure that the investments they make in development activities succeed in delivering a strong pipeline of talent?
One of the strongest findings from the research is that activities tend to have far more impact when they are tailored to individuals’ specific development needs. After all, different people have different learning styles and needs, and so for maximum effect their development activities need to differ too. And that means doing three things.
The answer lies in the independent academic research into what really works to help people develop. It shows us what is not working now, and points the way to
1. Individualise development
Personal development plans
First, make sure development plans are genuinely tailored to each person’s
needs. That may sound obvious, but it may mean deploying solutions such as coaching and modularised courses that are inevitably more logistically complex than a single development programme – and may appear more costly. That needn’t necessarily be the case, however; particularly if development plans involve less formal training and more behavioural solutions. Let’s say, for instance, that ‘strategic thinking’ has been identified as an individual’s particular development need. Rather than simply putting a generic strategy course in a plan, we would suggest actions – such as reading more broadly, or creating mock practice plans – that put more emphasis on individual behavioural change. Homing in on this helps offset any increased cost and complexity involved in creating individual development plans. But, to be successful, it is reliant on the following:
To target activities, we need to know what each person needs in order to develop. The traditional way is to ask managers during the annual appraisal process. But their ability to identify the needs of their people can vary. And, even when they are good at it, they tend to focus more on short-term needs, in role, and less on broader, longer-term development. This is why many firms conduct an objective and formal assessment of individuals to help understand both who would benefit most from developmental resources, and what specific needs they might have. The benefits of doing this are evidenced in the research, which shows that people undergoing this kind of assessment, and then receiving feedback on the results, tend to develop faster than those who do not have this input. Given that research also shows that almost all of us have at least one blind spot – an area where we think we are more skilled than we actually are – we probably shouldn’t be surprised by this.
Burying the 70:20:10 rule The final thing we need to do to individualise development is to bury the 70:20:10 rule. This is the idea that 70% of learning should come from on-thejob experience; 20% from coaching and feedback; and 10% from formal training and learning interventions. The benefit of the idea is that it makes everyone aware that development is not just about formal programmes. The downside, though, is that the 70:20:10 rule is NOT a rule. It is a generalisation and a guess, founded on a single piece of research that asked leaders what made them successful, and is therefore neither a scientific fact nor a recipe for how best
to develop people. And to the extent that it leads us to overlook the fact that some people may benefit more from training, it undermines our ability to individualise development. This is because different competencies require different sorts of development. For example, studies suggest that developing others is best learnt – initially at least – through training. Yet political savviness and networking appear best learnt through experience and coaching. So if we want development activities to be as effective as possible, we need to be willing to not be bound by the 70:20:10 myth.
2. Use stretch experiences Having said that different people benefit from different types of learning activities, there is evidence that one particular type of activity – stretching work experiences – can help people develop more than any other. Knowing experience can stimulate development is one thing; helping people get it is quite another. That throws up two challenges: finding ways to source experiences for people; and ensuring people get the right experiences.
Sourcing stretching experiences For the most part, organisations tend to source developmental experiences by helping people find new roles. Some firms actively manage people’s careers, and move them from job to job, but most tend to leave it up to the individual. The problem with this is that it relies upon visibility – on people being known to the senior leaders making selection decisions. Talent reviews and highpotential pools are both attempts to
solve this issue. But too often these reviews and pools result in lists that are not actually used during selection decisions. So some kind of active, formal intervention is required to help people find new roles. But there are alternative options any firm can use. Other developmental experiences might include leading or taking part in special projects, or even something as simple as accompanying a manager to high-level meetings. Indeed, this kind of shadowing of managers is probably the single-most underused development opportunity in organisations today. And other than the time required, it is free.
Match experiences to individuals Unfortunately, just giving people stretch assignments is not enough to guarantee development. It may work, but then it may not – because research shows that some types of experience are more developmental than others. In other words, if you want to help people develop through experience, it needs to be the right experience.
If you want to help people develop through experience, it needs to be the right experience.
One undisputed finding here is that an experience needs to involve a degree of change or challenge in order to be truly developmental Any assignment that involves this – be it speaking at a senior forum, leading a difficult project, or moving internationally – can boost
development. But because different types of experience lead to different types of learning, they need to be matched to an individual’s need to be truly developmental. To help us think about this, researchers have tried categorising the different types of challenges that experiences can provide. A common version, set out below, distinguishes between three different types of challenge:
help people extract maximum learning from experiences and activities. These are not just optional extras – one of the most consistent findings from research is that scaffolding processes are actually more important in ensuring people learn than the quality and content of development activities. Even the most world-class training, coaching or executive education programmes
• Negotiation skills
Other low-tech scaffolding techniques include providing networking opportunities, with an emphasis on information-rich peer networks more than supportive social networks. And, in the same vein, there is evidence that ‘development-buddies’ – individuals who pair up with people going through development activities to help them extract the maximum learning – can improve effectiveness. The common focus of all these methods is on embedding activities within a larger system that helps ensure that development genuinely happens. And that brings us to the scaffolding factor that can help more than any other – managers.
• Ability to see others’ perspectives
Start with managers
Type of experience or challenge
Learning / development
New situations with unfamiliar responsibilities
• Ability and willingness to rely on others
• Broader perspective
• Business and technical knowledge • Managing ambiguity
• Taking responsibility for a group or project Bringing about change or building relationships
High-responsibility, high-latitude jobs
• Creating co-operation
• Willingness and ability to involve others in decisions • Decisiveness
• Decision-making and organisational skills • Ability to see the bigger picture
However you categorise things, the key point is that development will be boosted most if there is a careful and deliberate matching between people’s development needs and the experiences they have.
3. Use scaffolding
evidence that just providing people with information on how to change their behaviour can increase the chances that they will succeed. Indeed, studies show that simply asking people to sign their development plans can increase commitment to them.
Scaffolding is a term used in educational circles to describe the processes, tools and other support that can be put in place to
are doomed to fail if the working environment doesn’t support change and development. Technology has dominated recent discussions about scaffolding solutions – notably, apps that collect real-time feedback, track progress against development plans, and both prompt and record development conversations. But scaffolding does not have to be complex or high-tech. There is
If you want to scaffold development activities effectively, there is no better place to start than with someone’s manager, because research shows it is the single most important scaffolding factor. The first and biggest step is simply involving managers in their people’s development. An increasingly common method used in coaching, for example, is for the coach to contact an individual’s manager at the end of each session. They can then briefly advise on any actions the individual has agreed to, or on anything in particular the manager can do to support the individual. To be effective though, managers need to go beyond passive involvement. They need to coach people, provide guidance and advice when it is needed, and support and encourage when things get tough.
Less than a third of managers say they feel confident about how to help people get the most from development activities.
Unfortunately, research we have conducted with the IMD Business School shows that most managers do not feel well-equipped to do this. In fact, less than a third say they feel confident they know how to help people get the most from development activities. Growing awareness of this is leading more and more companies to invest in training managers to support development. It is also why we have co-written a book, ‘Changing Employee Behavior’ (2015), with IMD, which contains over 100 different techniques managers can use to help people develop. Of course, ensuring managers support their people’s development requires more than just training and encouragement. And that brings us to the last of our four levers to help make development more effective.
4. Create accountability Strictly speaking, our fourth lever is also a type of scaffolding. But it is so important, it deserves its own place on our list. Research shows that the time required for people to develop can be reduced by an amazing 30% if
they are held accountable for their own development. In a similar vein, there is evidence that people develop faster when firms recognise and reward those who show more development.
With each of these, the aim is to create transparency and accountability about whether development is truly happening. And, as ever, accountability helps ensure activity.
To create accountability though, requires tracking whether people have genuinely developed; you need to have visibility on whether progress has been made, performance improved, or behaviour changed.
What needs to happen
There is no single best way of doing this, but here are some of the most common and effective ways we have encountered: • Making reviewing development a formal, measured part of performance reviews. • Using shorter development plans, lasting just 3–6 months, to make it easier to see if people are succeeding in developing. • Holding reviews of progress every month or two with an HR representative or other third party, at which the proportion of development plans implemented is agreed and recorded.
Some of the factors we have described above may sound obvious; nonetheless, they are not common practice. That is all the more remarkable given that independent research shows how important they are in terms of making development experiences and activities effective. Practically speaking, most businesses will not be able to implement all four of these levers to the fullest extent immediately. But we firmly believe that all firms can do something, right now, towards each of them. Nik Kinley is a Director & Head of Emerging Talent based in YSC’s London office. T: +44 (0)20 7520 5555 / email@example.com
• Giving individuals a monetary prize or public recognition and praise for successfully developing themselves. • Using dynamic development costs, in which central HR pays for development activities, unless individuals are felt not to be participating fully – at which point costs are transferred to individuals’ business units.
Crossing the Rubicon: Moving from deliverer to leader by Maisie Morten and Tony Susa
Organisations typically reward high-performing deliverers with more responsibility, larger teams, and the mandate to shape the future of their area. But although driven towards advancement, many struggle to make the shift from deliverers to leaders – often a first taste of failure. Why, ask Maisie Morten and Tony Susa, does this transition present such a stumbling block? Much has been written on the core activities of leadership – setting a vision, creating the conditions for others to succeed, and so on. Despite the plentiful research, and the typical high performer’s track record of mastering new skills, the jump to leadership is often a struggle. We would argue that it’s not a lack of skill that presents the biggest barrier; rather, it’s the cognitive shift required of the individual around what is, and has been, intrinsically motivating to them.
Why people struggle – the convergers’ dilemma
Why is this ‘intrinsic shift,’ (i.e. finding the will and/or internal reward to lead), so difficult? In part, it’s due to a combination of whom we reward and
what we reward. The answers can be found in YSC’s extensive benchmark database. Our aggregate data shows the majority of professionals we see (65%) rely on a problem-solving style approach called ‘converging’. Convergers typically draw insights from data and then swiftly move to action – focusing on how they implement their solution, rather than staying longer in the space of ideation. They are often rewarded early, beginning in grade school. Once in the business world, they become known as problem-solvers who get things done, and are seen as the ‘movers and shakers’ of an organisation. Not surprisingly, most companies reward this behaviour. Thus, even if a person enters an organisation with a different problem-solving
preference, it is likely they will begin to operate as a converger, particularly if they are ambitious to get promoted. The question that is less often asked by those that sit above these convergers is the ‘how’ around their delivery. A converger’s leadership style tends to be task-focused. They may enjoy delving into the minutiae and having a handle on the details because, for all the aforementioned reasons, ‘the doing’ is an area of comfort and historical reward. Of course, they can generate followership through this style of leadership – not least because their energy for a task is often contagious. But this style is closer to managing the task than it is to leadership in the broader sense of the word. As the company reinforces this style, attracting and promoting these professionals, the cycle perpetuates and reinforces itself. Convergers enjoy being led by other convergers.
This cycle of reward can then be very difficult for people to pull away from; over time, it becomes intrinsic to their motivation. Yet the move to leader often
demands that people move away from the activities they were good at, towards more ambiguous challenges with delayed gratification. For example: • From solving issues in the here and now, to spotting strategic opportunities with longer-term impact. • From getting things done through their own drive and hands-on effort, to inspiring and empowering others. • From moving quickly from solution to action, to socialising an idea for longer to gain more traction. Implicit in the above, and possibly a separate challenge in itself, is the need to delegate more, to create time for higher-level tasks. The higher you go in an organisation, the more time is needed for stakeholder management and for focusing on strategic issues – both of which are less direct activities. This can be frustrating as people move away from a skillset that has served them well, offered more immediate reward, and become a fundamental motivator to them.
What to consider Of the key transitions a leader will go through in their career, this early one can often be the most challenging because it requires people to move away from getting fast, tangible results, a core source of satisfaction and validation. To aid them, here are five questions individuals making this transition should ask themselves: 1. What will becoming a leader give me that I don’t have now? The immediate answer is often extrinsic reward like increased pay or more impressive title. However extrinsic reward is not going to be enough for the shortfall in intrinsic motivation for those who prefer delivering. Before moving up, people should consider whether they want to
progress, and, if so, why, rather than taking it as a given that promotion is the best thing for them. By being clear about what a new role offers them, it will be easier to let go of their current way of operating. 2. What’s my job (now)? A simple question indeed, but a powerful one that can help people re-focus, or put their focus, where it should be in a leadership versus a managerial role. Managers are paid to get the tasks done, leaders are paid to get others to get the tasks done so that they can focus on the bigger, more strategic, issues. This requires a level of delegation many find difficult because, again, it requires ‘letting go’ of things the individual does well and finds rewarding. Thus, reflecting on this question can help leaders who are struggling with delegation – and at least force them to think about where their time might be better spent, given what the organisation is now asking of them as a leader of people. 3. How can I get the satisfaction I got from delivering in this new leadership role? People making the jump should consider what gives them meaning and purpose in their work. What does a good day involve? Perhaps it’s being seen as an expert, having an impact on the bottom line, winning others’ trust, serving the organisation’s mission, or challenging how things are done. Whatever the source, our drivers are relatively stable and we carry them with us regardless of where we go/find ourselves. So identify what’s at the root of the most satisfying activities. What are the values that sit behind these? Once you’ve identified what your top values are, you can begin thinking about how to operationalise them in your next role or as a new leader.
4. What am I like under pressure? People may make the transition to leading, but then, under stress, fall back on old behaviours. For some, this may be moving into the details; for others, withdrawing from the team to focus in on tasks and losing visibility. Knowing our go-to style under pressure, and putting in place systems and strategies ahead of time, will help manage the risk of slipping into old habits later. One suggestion might be to solicit the help of a trusted advisor or partner, who can call you out when they see regression to old ways of working. 5. Who can I learn from? Identify the leader you most aspire to be like. Find a mentor who fits this profile and, more generally, put more energy into networking with senior leadership. Observe what it’s like to work for those you admire, and the impact they have on their area and the broader business. Change often represents loss for people, but in losing something we also have the opportunity to create a new identity. Use these opportunities to define the leader you want to be.
The hard part for those struggling to make the shift from delivering to leading isn’t executing new behaviours or learning new skills – it’s making a cognitive shift that allows them to find reward in these new behaviours. There is no easy answer, but the questions we’ve outlined here will help people who might be wrestling with this common, but critical, transition point from deliverer to leader. Maisie Morten is a Director and Tony Susa is a Managing Consultant, both based in YSC’s New York office. T: +1 212 661 9888 / firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Although programmes are invariably set up with the best of intentions, they’re often not well thought through. Here Aoife Kilduff outlines the shape of a successful HiPo programme, and looks at some of the new ideas being deployed by companies to identify and develop talent.
by Aoife Kilduff
Human talent is the lifeblood of any organisation. Yet, research shows that nearly half of companies lack a systemic process for identifying high potential individuals (HiPos) – and, of those that do, only 33% use robust methods.
FIVE WAYS TO SET UP YOUR HIGH POTENTIAL PROGRAMME FOR SUCCESS Make a clear link with talent strategy It’s easy to fall into the trap of setting up a HiPo programme without thinking about how it fits into the broader talent strategy. Most organisations use these programmes as a way of identifying people who could take on more senior roles in future – it’s unlikely there will be immediate advancement opportunities for everyone. But if the programme is part of an integrated talent strategy, you can discuss potential roles in years to come. Greater transparency will reduce the number of HiPo ‘flight risks’ as it gives individuals an idea of when their next opportunity will be. One of our clients – a FTSE 100 Pharmaceutical Company looking to identify and develop talent 10 years out to strengthen its long-term executive pipeline – provides an interesting example. Before the programme began, we worked together to outline the type of leaders the business would need in the future. The HiPo individuals identified were then assessed against these criteria, given a recommendation about the leadership level they were likely to reach, and some targeted development actions to get them there.
Take a rigorous, consistent approach to identifying potential Many organisations still use the ‘9-box grid’ to make decisions about who is HiPo. This assessment method involves placing talent into one of nine boxes, based on the potential and performance they demonstrate. Defining what is meant by performance is relatively straightforward. Gaining agreement on what is meant by potential, however, is fraught with difficulty for several reasons: • Organisations often confuse notions of performance and potential. Although performance is a useful gauge for identifying HiPos, it shouldn’t be the only filter. 93% of HiPos are also high performers; yet only about 15% of an organisation’s high performers are also HiPos (CEB research, 2014). • Organisations tend to lack a clear, consistent definition of potential. Managers often ‘bet’ on which individuals they think will succeed, without any agreed criteria about what types of leaders the business will actually need in future. Because they don’t usually have a sophisticated internal definition of potential, many adopt YSC’s JDI model (built on the concepts of Judgement, Drive and Influence) as their own.
Organisations tend to lack a clear, Consistent definition of potential.
A few organisations are now using variants of the 9-box grid to get a more nuanced view of potential by rating different aspects of potential and performance. You could, for instance, measure potential for the next level up, or for a broadening move, and analyse performance in terms of the bottomline, leadership or teamwork. The idea is that more specific ratings give a more granular view of an individual, providing more precise information for talent management decisions. A common mistake is to label individuals HiPo without asking how much they actually want to be stretched right now. The fear of being labelled ‘unambitious’, or of being passed over for future opportunities, means people often feel uncomfortable refusing a place on a HiPo scheme. Yet, if they aren’t motivated to pick up the challenge at that moment, they won’t make full use of the programme. One way around this problem is to remove the performance axis from the 9-box grid completely (having screened for individuals who rate as, at minimum, satisfactory) and measure individuals instead by how motivated they are to be stretched. Make sure ‘non-standard talent’ reaches shortlists It’s important that all nominations for a HiPo programme are calibrated, preferably by a group of independent observers, to avoid bias – many of the organisations we work with send us either all, or some, of the people on their HiPo shortlist to assess. Without an objective view, the risk is that only the most agreeable candidates will make it through, and more ‘spiky’ HiPo individuals are weeded out. Once the programme is up and running, keep up the evaluation process. Many
organisations now track the effect of HiPo programmes using internal data on promotion rates, engagement and retention. As well as providing insight about whether the HiPo programme is succeeding in accelerating development, it will help uncover hidden biases or blockers to progression. Think about line manager ownership Most organisations rely on line managers to nominate individuals for HiPo programmes. Once a definition of potential has been agreed upon, organisations need to ensure that they roll out training for managers on: • The criteria they should be looking for in a HiPo candidate. • How potential differs from performance. • What the HiPo programme is for. Managers often nominate people for reasons other than their HiPo status. They might think the programme will help retain an employee who is a flight risk, or help an individual’s specific development need. • What their role will be in the process. One of the main risks when line managers nominate candidates is that they hold back their best talent for fear of losing them to another part of the organisation. Rewarding managers who transfer HiPo leaders successfully to other parts of the business could help with this, but it is something organisations often fail to do. Self-nomination is an increasingly popular strategy – not least because it defuses the worry that an individual might not be motivated enough to take on the stretch that a HiPo programme requires. With this in mind, a Utilities Company recently partnered with YSC to design a self-nomination process for its HiPo
programme. In the past, the company had used talent spotters, with a good oversight of the business, to pick people. However, the process was very secretive and caused a whole host of problems. Hence the decision to open it up this year and allow people to self-nominate. The application form was tailored to address gaps the company had identified in its leaders. In addition to these tailored questions, individuals had to rate themselves on JDI and rank themselves against the nine components. Line managers were also asked to complete the application form. Both forms were then reviewed by the business leader and sent to a panel of talent spotters who triangulated the data to pick the shortlist of people for the programme. Focus on development as much as identification Many organisations we work with are keen to identify HiPo talent, but have often spent less time thinking about how to develop it. That’s illustrated rather graphically by the stats. Research has shown that only 5% of HiPo programmes manage to drive significant performance increases and enable top talent to reach their full potential (CEB research, 2014).
In our experience, organisations with a strong focus on developing talent usually do so by throwing open access to senior managers and the organisation more widely. Formal links to HR processes like job rotations, international assignments, or places on succession plans are common. Most HiPo programmes also involve some type of formal training, such as off-site workshops and e-learning. However, on-the-job learning is often considered to be a more effective way of developing HiPos. Giving people businessrelevant special projects or assignments stretches their experience – and can also
help generate creative solutions to reallife problems. YSC partners with many organisations to offer developmental assessments of HiPo candidates – often assessing a candidate multiple times as they move up the ranks. One example is the work we’re doing with a FTSE 100 Financial Services client, providing a different type of assessment process each time to continually add value. During a more interactive second assessment with YSC, for instance, candidates were asked to create a leadership framework for the firm’s future leaders and to assess themselves against this.
What does this all mean for your organisation? Most organisations do not have a sophisticated view of potential and lack a clear narrative about how their HiPo programme fits into their broader talent strategy. We encourage all companies to reflect on the following: 1. Have you run an impact study to identify how successful your HiPo programme has been so far? How many people have been promoted successfully? How can these success stories give you a better understanding of what helps people develop and progress in your business? 2. Are you weighting performance too heavily when identifying HiPo leaders? Performance is certainly an indicator of potential, but other factors – particularly context – play a role. Someone who has just started a new role is unlikely to get the highest performance rating that year – a pity if that stops them from getting onto the HiPo programme that year. A system like this may discourage people from making career-broadening moves
because their performance ratings will likely suffer, potentially blocking their career progression. 3. Are you taking into account an individual’s motivation and desire for stretch when identifying them as HiPo? Allowing people to nominate themselves, or training line managers to discuss career aspirations with them before nomination, could help with this. 4. Should you run an assessment before finalising the shortlist of HiPo programme participants? Are you calibrating the judgements of your line managers against an external benchmark? This will help ensure the process isn’t too internally-focused, and that the people you have picked are comparable to HiPo leaders in other organisations. Aoife Kilduff is a Research Consultant based in YSC’s London office. T: +44 (0)20 7520 5555 / firstname.lastname@example.org
How technology is changing leadership development for the better By Alan Todd
New collaborative technologies have the power to transform the way companies are led, as well as making it easier to monitor success and identify leadership challenges. Here, CorpU’s Alan Todd, a pioneer in the field of corporate learning, outlines a brave new world of ‘structured conversations’, ‘cohort strategy’ and ‘idea tournaments’. Deloitte’s 2015 ‘Global Human Capital Trends’ report dealt a scathing blow to corporate HR functions ‘struggling to develop leaders at all levels’ as the ‘capability gap for building great leaders’ widens in ‘every region of the world.’ Even the most admired companies have made little progress in the area of leadership development in recent years. HR functions, in turn, receive low marks for performance. Why is it that, as businesses transform and reinvent themselves, leadership development remains at the top of most executives’ what-keeps-me-awake-atnight list? What prevents organisations from flattening this critical barrier to growth and improved performance? How can technology help to bend the curve so that organisations can grow smarter – and faster?
From Me to We Within high-performing organisations, the idea that individual leaders make an impact on performance is declining. As hierarchies give way to matrix and team-based models, collective, rather than individual leadership performance, explains a larger share of organisational outcomes. And yet, in most companies, the approach to leadership development has not evolved to reflect this change. Most development programmes today still focus on closing skill gaps for individuals, with tomorrow’s leaders grouped into development cohorts because they happen to sign up at the same time for a particular course. Better outcomes require a shift in the development environment to reflect realworld conditions. That starts with groups
Beyond yesterday’s competencies Change is reverberating through every industry sector and, by any measure, the pace of change is accelerating. Businesses that calcify development practices around yesterday’s strategy will fall behind – smart leadership development encourages a rebalancing of management attention from running the business today to reshaping the business for future success. Unfortunately, most leadership competency models fail – as development frameworks – to anticipate, describe or address the specialised knowledge and abilities that new strategies demand. As companies redesign and implement new strategies, they need to place equal emphasis on re-examining the skills and competencies that matter within novel conditions, and on pruning experiences and expertise that may be inadequate, or irrelevant, in the future.
Corporate strategy and derivative execution plans should work in tandem with evolving competency frameworks to identify and reinforce the capabilities that leaders must develop. And the development environment must enable
leaders to discover how to reintegrate their work so that information and handoffs can flow smoothly across teams and functions.
Context is king: design for impact It’s no longer enough to improve a leader’s knowledge of new ideas. Nor is it enough to have them participate in action learning projects that aren’t related to the shared and immediate challenges they face. Collaborative learning requires contextual relevance to motivate groups and cultivate experiences that enable next generation leaders to practise the skills and competencies that drive collective impact. The Five-C’s provides a simple framework for development initiatives that change behaviour and activate strategy:
As hierarchies give way to matrix and team-based models, collective – rather than individual leadership performance – explains a larger share of organisational outcomes. And yet, in most companies, the approach to leadership development has not evolved to reflect this change.
of leaders who have shared responsibility to orchestrate organisational capabilities. Leading groups requires learning together to develop a shared understanding of a strategic initiative, new opportunity or business problem. This type of environment better fits the pace of change by accelerating the conversion of theory to practice, the movement of ideas into action. It enables new concepts to cascade to groups of leaders at lower levels to deepen the knowledge base. That improves trust, and allows decisionmaking to move downward.
• Cause – Identify the root cause of a performance problem: solving a problem has to start with shared interest within a team.
• Community – Engage groups of leaders who share responsibility for improving performance and moving beyond a challenge.
• Catalyst – Introduce a new set of ideas, frameworks, and tools to create pressure for change, and a path toward outcomes. • Criteria for Success – Be clear about the evidence you will use to determine that development is directly delivering specified business results.
• Champion – Empower a business leader who has a vested interest in ensuring that development leads to an intended business impact.
From social to strategic: next generation collaboration and strategy activation Just five years ago, collaborative and online learning tools were in their infancy. Executives learned, the hard way, that cloud-based collaboration tools were great for planning barbeques or lunch dates – but had little or no impact on collaboration, learning, and development. In a world where the pace of communication is accelerating and increasingly digital, development programmes can now leverage nextgeneration collaboration tools to introduce new ideas, experts, frameworks, and orchestrate structured dialogue to guide leadership groups through the integration of concepts as they work. Learning sciences and next-generation collaboration tools are converging to create blended experiences that executives can use to develop leadership, and unlock the college genius of teams through structured conversations, idea tournaments and the application of predictive analytics.
Structured conversations Technology, alone, won’t foster collaboration or learning. But nextgeneration collaboration platforms can enable structured conversations to take hold in organisations – to incite intense dialogue on a focused proposition. Collaboration centred around structured conversations helps groups intentionally and collectively take advantage of diversity, anticipate conflicts, and engage in true innovation.
Structured conversation sets up conditions for: • Pooling collective ideas for the mutual benefit of an initiative. • Clarifying responsibility and decisionmaking authority. • Identifying hurdles and possible solutions. • Dissecting new concepts and moulding them to an organisational purpose. • Encouraging a stronger commitment to the ultimate direction highlighted by the group.
Cohort strategy Of course, the value of structured conversations is proportional to the diversity of conversation participants. That’s why cohort construction is critical to driving results. Principles of cohort design should take into account the dimensions of the conversation and the perspectives that would shape the ideas to fit an organisation’s purpose. Cohorts become heterogeneous groups representing ideas: • Across functions. • Across geographic locations.
• Across hierarchy levels.
• Across experience levels. • Across age groups.
Cohort strategy should be clearly articulated and designed to encourage collaboration and engagement.
Idea Tournaments Technology now enables large-scale idea tournaments that tap the collective wisdom of an organisation’s leadership team to pursue growth or gain-finding opportunities, or to propose solutions to business challenges. Idea tournaments can capture a broad funnel of ideas, score ideas on financial impact and ease of implementation, manage a participant rating process, refine ideas through subsequent rounds of voting, and eventually yield the one or two ideas that should be turned into urgent initiatives.
Analytics and enterprise strategy management Technology doesn’t just provide a platform to teach and guide development at scale, it also offers a wealth of new data sources to monitor success and identify leadership challenges early. Development experiences now generate a digital footprint that can provide real-time insights into the engagement and activity levels of team members. During the implementation phase of new initiatives, executives can monitor and ‘listen’ to thousands of conversations across the enterprise. Awash in data, savvy companies are developing predictive analytics to provide evidence of people’s understanding of initiatives (or lack of it), commitment to success (or lack of it), and confidence to employ new capabilities (or not yet).
Summary Organisations must develop capable leaders faster – a process requiring a substantial overhaul of current approaches – and business strategy must become the new framework that identifies leadership development needs in real-time. New technologies can help by adding new dimensions to the development experience, which engage leaders in the dialogue and collaboration that will accelerate the transition from learning to application. Technology can also capture data in a way never available before, giving executives and HR professionals new insights into the effectiveness of development programmes. References:
Bersin, Josh, et al. (2015). Global Human Capital Trends 2015. Leading in the New World of Work. Deloitte University Press. New York.
Alan Todd is CEO of CorpU. www.corpu.com
A NEW TOOL IN THE TALENT ARSENAL By Emmett Gracie
“YSC’s new partnership with organisational learning expert, CorpU, is a milestone for the firm that should help clients reap significant benefits”, says Emmett Gracie. But it may involve letting go of some old assumptions.
In the previous article, Alan Todd writes eloquently about the value of not limiting our focus to the individual leader, but of appreciating the importance of collective leadership. And indeed, working to help communities of leaders has become an increasingly significant part of the value YSC brings to clients. The big challenge – as we have learned from working with large, complex, global organisations – is
scalability. YSC maintains our belief that change starts with the individual, and we have observed organisations struggling with the challenge of catalysing change across the enterprise. It can be difficult to build solutions that outlive the sponsorship of an individual, or isolated agenda, and to develop sustainable expertise across time-zones, cultures and functions, etc in a participative change process like the research suggests we should. As a result, we often find our initial solutions tend to touch a privileged few rather than the community as a whole. This is partly down to logistics. The cost of getting experienced subject-matter experts or facilitators into a room – and taking sometimes hundreds of managers out of their working day – impedes many organisations from creating a more unified approach to important talent initiatives. The question, then, is: How do we bring a wider audience along on this journey… without a significant drop in quality?
Letting go of old assumptions Interest in harnessing online, app and mobile technology to enhance learning and communication isn’t just about scale – it’s also indicative of increasing recognition that technology-enabled learning is powerful and more in tune with how we interact with the world around us. Indeed, the idea of classroomstyle learning now has a distinctly old fashioned feel for many people. During one recent skills workshop, a distracted learner was found playing through exercises from a digital learning course on his smartphone! When we began exploring what technology-enabled learning had to offer more closely with CorpU, I was struck by the old analogy to mobile phones. I well remember how, in the 1990s and early 2000s, many people were slow to appreciate the potential capability
Arguably, we now find ourselves at a similar point in relation to technologyenabled learning – e-learning is still associated in many minds with getting a CD-ROM in the mail with a PowerPoint deck and a voiceover. As a result, we still tend to view it as a passive experience: isolated, impersonal, generic – a compromise to ‘proper’ facilitated learning. Yet technology-enabled learning is as different today as a modern smartphone is to the earliest mobile phones.
Technology is social Connecting and interacting through technology is the new normal. It is no longer a question of doing something with people, or doing it virtually – that distinction simply no longer makes sense to the emerging generation of leaders. Modern technology-enabled learning combines the best of both worlds: the convenience of remote access and broad range of different learning elements available online, with the ability to learn collaboratively and interactively with others with live guidance and expertise regularly available.
Byte-sized learning Today’s learner also wants to be able to dip in and out of a learning experience, as they do with most other elements of their professional and personal life. Isolating a learning event from one’s day-to-day job makes as much sense as dedicating a whole day to nothing but catching up on email. By compartmentalising a learning experience into a number of smaller
packets, you allow learners to go through the experience on their terms, managing it around their other commitments, in a manner that gels with how they are dealing with the rest of their daily lives.
Speaking with one voice Another perennial challenge we find, particularly with bigger global clients, is ensuring a common narrative and language while being sensitive to context. For organisations to create a robust approach to accelerating development, it is vital that there is a consistent definition and practice around its central tenets (such as potential, succession and coaching). A unified platform ensures the structure and basis of training can be kept consistent. The base content remains standardised and universal, but can be flexed locally to reflect the nuances of the context of different cultures, regions, businesses or operating contexts.
The YSC/CorpU partnership By teaming up with CorpU to create our first partnered course, Assessing and Developing Potential, YSC is not for one second suggesting there isn’t still great value in bringing together a group of bright, capable people in the same physical space. We simply recognise that this is no longer automatically the best and only means of creating a great learning environment and supporting a wider talent initiative. For some years, CorpU has been an innovator and driver in the field of blending learning methods into an engaging and interactive online experience. Combining that skill with our own expertise in understanding potential
and accelerating development has obvious benefits. We think the learning modules we’ve created are rich and varied (they’ve certainly been a lot of fun to develop!) and we’re excited about the new possibilities. This new talent acceleration tool broadens our options in terms of what great solutions can look like. It’s a welcome addition to the YSC talent arsenal.
The growing interest in harnessing online, app and mobile technology to enhance learning and communication isn’t just about scale – it’s also an increasing recognition that technology-enabled learning is powerful and more in tune with how we interact with the world around us.
of new smartphones – because of old associations made in the 1980s between mobile technology and ‘yuppie phones’ or ‘bricks’.
Emmett Gracie is a Managing Consultant based in YSC’s London office. T: +44 (0)20 7520 5555 / email@example.com
Using Technology to Enhance Practice: Moving JDI Online By Meghan Craig
Nearly 20 years ago, YSC developed a model of potential to identify talented individuals. Built around the concepts of Judgement, Drive and Influence – all attributes critically important to success – the JDI model has since become the gold standard in the field. Here Meghan Craig reports on the latest developments. In recent years, we have been working with a number of clients to embed our Model of Potential, JDI, into their talent and development processes. It has been a journey of discovery for both parties. One of the tools we have used extensively to support clients having robust conversations with people about their potential is the JDI checklist. This allows line managers and HR professionals to rate against the subscales of Judgement, Drive and Influence to establish a more nuanced and rigorous picture of someone’s potential. The checklist has always been provided as a paper-andpencil tool to support development conversations and assess potential for succession planning purposes. Sometimes we use an algorithm to calculate an ‘overall potential’ rating for the individual, but this has always required manual calculation, or at best, an Excel formula to do the thinking for us.
Last year, we provided exactly that for a client who was in the early stages of embedding JDI as their Model of Potential. The paper checklist was used extensively with their most senior leaders as part of their development and succession planning conversations. While fit for purpose in this early phase, there was also a recognition that the tool was limited by its method of output. Our client felt that there would be better uptake, greater consistency and improved ‘trackability’ of use if we could move the checklist online. They were also keen to link this tool more explicitly to the JDI development guide which had also been made available in paper form within their system. We did not have an off-the-shelf solution for this. Nevertheless, the request chimed well with our broader focus on developing technology-augmented solutions and provided us with an exciting opportunity to partner with our client to develop a tailored option that took the JDI checklist online. Through our YSC Online platform, we designed a self-report tool modelled on the checklist which allows individuals to rate their potential against the JDI subscales in conjunction
Our recent partnership with CorpU to provide an online, facilitated learning journey for Assessing & Developing Potential has further expanded the possibilities of working within a virtual landscape
with, or following a development conversation with, their line manager. The tool also invites the individual to choose three areas – a combination of strengths and development needs – for which they would like ideas and options for their development. The online tool automatically produces a report that outlines a person’s JDI profile based on their responses and provides an output of the relevant sections of the JDI Development Guide based on their selection. The report generated is sent directly to the individual and their line manager to support ongoing development discussions and action planning. We could not have anticipated the need for this tool at the outset of embedding JDI with our client, but its timeliness in the second year of the process has helped to build momentum, engaged a wider audience with JDI and provided the mechanism for supporting more consistent talent conversations across the organisation. This has also opened up opportunities for us to explore other digital processes to embed JDI. Our recent partnership with CorpU to provide an online, facilitated learning journey for Assessing & Developing Potential has further expanded the possibilities of working within a virtual landscape to bring a rigorous and consistent understanding to many more layers of leaders throughout the organisation. Given the evolutionary nature of embedding JDI with our clients, this has unfolded at a moment in the journey when the need is clear and the timing is right. Importantly, this is not being introduced as a shiny new tool just because we have it available. Rather, it is integral to a much broader process of securely embedding JDI and making sure it sticks at multiple layers throughout the organisation. Had
YSC Potential Model
this been available at the outset of this process, the temptation might have been to rush in without clearly considering the need, the desired outcome and the most appropriate tools to support this. Instead, we have embarked on a journey together in which we were both alert to the growing need for technological solutions while cautious not to assume that the tools themselves could provide the solution. We are excited by this new opportunity and the dynamic evolution of the JDI embedding process. We are looking forward to continuing this journey and discovering how the digital world can augment our existing processes to support a robust and longlasting integration of the JDI Model of Potential into their system. Meghan Craig is a Managing Consultant based in YSC’s London office. T: +44 (0)20 7520 5555 / firstname.lastname@example.org
t ar w te d -S par r e p nn he e S e D ley v e y St Ha y B &
Steve DennerStewart and Hayley Sheppard report on YSC’s involvement in shaping an innovative talent model at a major global bank.
The past decade has been a challenging one for banks globally. Following the hiatus of 2008, many have embarked on major reorganisations, consolidations and strategy reappraisals. And that, in turn, has meant a new focus on talent and a questioning of the kind of leadership that might be necessary in the future. At one international Bank’s commercial business, headquartered in London, the identification and development of future leaders has become a priority. “We realised we needed a more sustainable talent pipeline, that would meet our needs globally across all the various business lines,” says Celina Chan, Global Programme Manager for the Bank’s subsequent solution: A targeted career acceleration programme for identified talent. “When I looked at the data, I found gaps – particularly in terms of the diversity of people in senior roles – and, strategically, we needed to do something about it. We needed a more equal balance on gender. We wanted to find a more consistent way of identifying and developing talent globally: there has to be the right focus and benchmark, and the Business’ support to accelerate talent through the organisation.”
We wanted to enable people to be proactive about their own development. The deal was that we would give them coaching, mentors in the Bank and sessions with senior managers – everything they needed to progress. But that this would be a two-way relationship.
The solution was conceived from the outset “as a quite different kind of programme” from existing solutions, says Celina. “The plan was to create a customised programme, specifically tailored to the Bank. It wasn’t designed to bring people together on a five-day course – we wanted a programme that would last a year and take a systematic and holistic approach to accelerating the careers of people identified as having potential to take on senior leadership roles; at the same time fulfilling their aspirations and ambitions. We put a heavy emphasis on achieving a tangible outcome and a measurable target.” The aim of the programme, which began in 2013, was that at least 80% of the 100 or so individuals selected in each annual cohort would achieve promotion or a role expansion. “And I am pleased to say we achieved that over all three cohorts.” The resulting programme emphasised on individual development. Thus, in addition to opening up access to senior figures and other lines of business in the Bank (and devising a specific group
challenge that participants would work on together), it included a 1:1 assessment of each individual and bespoke coaching and development planning. “We wanted to enable people to be proactive about their own development. The deal was that we would give them coaching, mentors in the Bank, and sessions with senior managers – everything they needed to progress. But that this would be a two-way relationship. They needed to drive their own development plan.”
Creating the conditions “YSC partnered with the client from the outset on the design and delivery of the programme” says Steve DennerStewart, Managing Consultant at YSC. “The aim was to create a programme that didn’t just focus on participants themselves, but worked with the system around them. This meant YSC working in tandem with the client to create the conditions around participants to enable development to happen. This involved ensuring senior visibility and sponsorship for participants, plus engagement from HR and Line Managers from the outset. Each participant’s journey begins with
An innovative programme
an in-depth individual assessment from a YSC coach. This provides the foundation for a number of coaching sessions, underpinned by a meaningful development plan they can take back into the business.” Participants – nominated by their own business divisions – were generally middle-managers aspiring to senior manager roles, who’d been identified as high potential and high performers. “The Bank is a longstanding client and we have a deep understanding of them as an organisation, and their challenges,” says Steve. “But because we are not part of their system, I think what we brought was an external perspective. And having a coach that was able to offer a confidential space for reflection and challenge was clearly valuable to many participants.” Also, YSC’s consultants are both leadership assessors and executive coaches. This combination enables them to help participants prioritise their development actions with a clear focus on what great looks like at senior leadership levels. 21
“As a generalisation, people who work for the Bank struggle to balance delivery demands with carving out time and space for their own development. It’s an important shift that the two can be seen as complementary, not in competition with one another. Developing themselves helps them deliver better in their role and beyond. For participants, creating time to think about what they do and why, and how to get the best out of themselves and others, can be extremely valuable. One of the main challenges was instilling the idea that it was important for people to have this protected time”.
Integration One reason why the programme was so successful, Steve believes, was that it was so tightly integrated: YSC and the client worked in partnership to deliver a joinedup experience to participants. “That meant continuous communication was crucial”. All the more so, adds YSC Client Business Manager, Hayley Sheppard, because of the size and global scope of the programme – and the large cohort size. “There have been so many fascinating aspects to this programme. It’s been great to be part of a project that has so many different elements,” she says. “But because the cohort size was quite large, it involved a lot of co-ordination, correspondence and management of any queries. And it was important to make sure all those involved in the process were kept regularly updated”.
“There are only three individual coaching sessions throughout the year, but the expectation is that participants maintain momentum and work on their development in between. Continual
engagement is therefore really important. We wanted to build a networked community.” But it was equally important to keep things streamlined. “My role was to be Celina’s main point of contact, collating updates from the YSC offices across the globe. Celina and I caught up once a week, where I would pass these on and we would review progress”. The outcome for the Bank was the development of ‘better leaders, faster’. Participants were deemed to have shown significant improvement against all of the Bank’s leadership capabilities, and, in addition, they were found to have progressed their career almost 12 months faster than their peers. Perhaps the ultimate measure of the programme’s success is that it is now being rolled out beyond Commercial Banking to all other businesses in the wider group. And it continues to evolve, reflecting the feedback of participants (see right). But, as Celina concludes, the clear lesson learned is that personal input is crucial. “One thing that we’ve found to be vital is finding the right people to take part. They need to be personally focused and committed. If they are not connected to it, they don’t get the same benefit. You need to really want this and to drive it forward”.
People who work for the Bank struggle to balance delivery demands with carving out time and space for their own development. It’s an important shift that the two can be seen as complementary, not in competition with one another.
But just as important, he adds, is giving themselves space to think about themselves.
Can you describe your experience of being part of the programme? “It was a privilege to be involved – a great opportunity to develop as an individual and gain valuable perspective on what is going on elsewhere in the Bank. We can get very lost in our own business and not see the big picture. I also found the breakfast meetings with the heads of business very useful, in terms of allowing you to showcase some of the presentation skills we’d focused on, and getting more visibility among senior managers”. “A useful and beneficial experience for me and for everyone involved”.
What aspects made the biggest difference to you and why? “The external coaching. The most important thing I’ve taken away is taking the time to focus on myself as an individual – and actually putting that in the diary. We can all get bogged down in day-to-day work, and it’s really about setting aside time to take a more strategic view”. “I’ve learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses – how and where I might deploy them, and about the
importance of building good stakeholder relations”. “For me, this was about taking ownership of my own development. My YSC coach went into areas that I hadn’t been aware of in a very honest, direct way. I feel as though I have developed and evolved”. “I can’t speak highly enough about the insightful and supportive insights I gained about myself, as well as practical help with skills like public speaking. It took me out of my comfort zone”.
Was there anything that surprised you about yourself? “The way the programme built my confidence. It encouraged me to be brave, to engage with senior management, even to be a bit cheeky”. “In large organisations you often get pressure from the boss to be more like your peer group. The biggest thing I’ve taken away from this is that I don’t have to be like that. It reinforced my own belief that the most important thing I can do is inspire the people in my own team”.
What do you think has been the impact on the Bank as a whole? “One of our greatest failings as a banking group is that we’ve traditionally been
very siloed. Programmes like this break down those barriers and encourage some great cross-fertilisation – and that can only be good for the organisation as a whole”.
What are the potential pitfalls and challenges of running a programme like this? “In a business like ours, which is going through huge change, a complex programme like this is obviously difficult to co-ordinate. I take my hat off to the organisers. If I can I would like to have my mentor in place earlier because they gave such valuable perspective” . “There’s a challenge involved in making the individual understand that it’s down to them to get the most out of the programme. If the individual isn’t engaged, it’s going to fall over” .
What might you have done differently? “I’d like to see more emphasis on the coaching element, rather than the project side of things. This is about inspiring future leaders, not implementing projects. I would have liked more practice in terms of inspiring and leading” .
What advice would you give to other organisations considering doing something similar? “Clearly there are big challenges in terms of organisation and coordinating people with already busy schedules. But the benefits far outweigh these drawbacks” . “Definitely get as much involvement as possible with senior management – our interactions with them were so useful. Be clear about how you promote the scheme and what you want to get out of it. Talent development can be a bit of a mystery – programmes like this are sometimes seen as a kind of ‘secret club’ and they shouldn’t be. So be transparent about what the scheme aims to do and what people will need to put into it. And be very clear about what roles might be available afterwards” . “Go for it”. Steve Denner-Stewart is a Managing Consultant & Hayley Sheppard is a Business Manager, both based in YSC’s London office. T: +44 (0)20 7520 5555 / email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
We can be heroes: Emerging leaders in China by Nicola Maycock
“Time produces its heroes...” an old Chinese saying claims. Here Nicola Maycock examines how a new generation of business leaders is coping with the challenge of rapid change. A recent survey (DUP 2016) found that 91% of Chinese companies rate leadership as an important, or very important, issue for them. They’re hardly alone: 56% of executives globally fear their companies are not ready to meet leadership needs; 28% report weak, or very weak, leadership pipelines; and only 7% have an accelerated leadership programme in place for emerging leaders. That said, China has to contend with a unique social, economic and political landscape.
The economic backdrop
Following a long phase of double-digit, year-on-year growth, China is moving into a period of relative economic slowdown (6–7% growth). Rapid change has led to increasing ambiguity, intense market competition and changing governmental regulations and policies. But China has also reaped the advantages of a greater presence in the international arena. Foreign investment into the
country has jumped from an annual average of US$76.2 billion ten years ago, to $128.5 billion in 2014, according to UNCTAD. Chinese foreign direct investment has also seen a significant increase: rocketing from $20 billion to $116 billion. The upshot has been more joint ventures, foreign partnerships and international employees – requiring greater cultural intelligence across the workforce. Since only 13% of global companies rate themselves as ‘excellent’ at building global leaders, according to DUP, this could pose problems.
Geert Hofstede’s research into Chinese culture shows that it scores highly on the masculinity dimension. Societies like China, says Hofstede, are “driven by competition, achievement and success, with success being defined by the winner / best in field – a value system that starts in school and continues throughout organisational life”. Because it is so vitally important to be successful, work ranks more highly than leisure time in Chinese society. Top school exam results are essential from Nonetheless, these economic and a very young age. The same is true in societal shifts have made China a very later working life of status and positions different environment in which to grow of power. In China’s hierarchy-focused up. Education, expectations and value society, the respect a person is owed is orientations are all evolving. Today’s determined firstly by their status relative Chinese youth have ever more access to to another person’s, not necessarily by Western culture, through television, movies personal achievements. and (when it works) the internet. That Material possessions are important as has brought with it a shifting employee culture in alignment with the growing status symbols – the streets of Shanghai globalisation of Chinese business. are testament to how much money is
spent on super cars in this city alone. And if a man wants to get married, he must first have a successful job and own a home and car. Given soaring property prices in most Tier 1 and 2 cities (China’s largest, according to government classification, GDP, population and so on), that is no mean feat. These societal expectations have been compounded by China’s single child policy (instigated in 1979, though recently revised to allow some couples to have two children) – the consequence of which is that a generation of Chinese children have had the intense focus of six adults (parents/grandparents) on them, all of whom they need to impress. Not keeping up with your peers, classmates or society’s expectations means losing face – a fundamental concept linked to the respect for prestige in Chinese society.
Leadership examples Historically, Chinese leadership has been about command and control: authoritarian and directive. Managers tell, subordinates to do what they’re told – no more and no less. Initiative, divergent thinking or influencing are discouraged, considered irrelevant even. Since challenging upwards means potentially losing face, individual views are rarely expressed. Chinese teams have therefore tended to think and behave like their leader, resulting in groupthink and a lack of innovation. Yet a good deal is changing. In recent years, a new start-up culture has taken hold in China – promoted by the media, but driven by business leaders who have survived volatile conditions by flexing to changing needs. Their entrepreneurial mindset is gaining new recruits among the corporate leaders of the future: emerging Chinese leaders are moving
away from more traditionally held values, towards lower power distance and a more individualistic and autonomous way of working. Ethical leadership is also growing – with a focus on wider social outcomes, not just the financial ones. Similarly, mindful leadership has issued in a focus on values, conduct and people – leaders must show integrity (characterised as consistency, honesty and trustworthiness) to be seen as effective leaders (Zhang et al., 2014). Western Gen Y and Millennial preoccupations are also starting to seep into Chinese culture. Emerging leaders have higher expectations of employers in terms of development and remuneration – and will move organisations on average every two years. They have been brought up with stronger values of openness, autonomy and free choice and are keen to express their individuality. They want regular promotions and pay rises to meet their own sense of entitlement, as well as society’s and their family’s expectations. Rapid growth – and the consequent need to fill a large number of senior roles – have made this possible in the past. But what now in a relatively slower market?
company is an individual’s relationship with their boss; no surprise that this factor also contributes to high disengagement. Something needs to be done. Giving high potential executives leadership experience early on in their careers is the best way to engage, develop and retain them. But we need to support them in the process. The developing picture of what Chinese emerging leaders want and need from their leaders and organisations makes the traditional command and control management style look redundant. We’re seeing instead a move towards a more balanced style – combining some authoritarian aspects with participative, humble, inspiring and authentic leadership. Interestingly, these values are not so dissimilar to the leadership qualities that Sun Tzu singles out in ‘The Art of War’. Namely, wisdom, trustworthiness, benevolence, courage, and firmness. Perhaps today’s heroes are not so vastly different from those of 2,500 years ago after all. Nicola Maycock is a Managing Consultant based in YSC’s London office. T: +44 (0)20 7520 5555 / email@example.com
Conclusion China is a vast country with significant regional differences – and this article merely scrapes the surface of the complexities faced by emerging leaders. Nonetheless, there are some conclusions we can reach about the challenges and opportunities they are encountering. Firstly, speed of promotion has left large numbers of them in people management positions, without the necessary skills or experience to support them. They lack expertise in delegating, coaching or developing their teams. The most commonly cited reason for leaving a
Demographic challenge or leadership opportunity? By Joanna Bleau & Jonathan Dean
Established wisdom has it that emerging talent management is all about bringing on the young. But that is to overlook a trove of untapped potential, argue Jonathan Dean and Joanna Bleau. One of our roles at YSC is to help clients identify, encourage and accelerate individuals with future leadership potential. And we’ve spotted an emerging pattern: talent seems to be getting older. Broader talent research backs up this trend, for which there are a number of possible underlying reasons:
1. Demography: An ageing and increasingly healthy population – combined with deferral of the national retirement age and high levels of youth unemployment – means workforces are ageing.
2. Career paths: Work and education patterns are increasingly threedimensional rather than linear, creating possibilities for new roles in new sectors throughout a working life. 3. Age discrimination: Recent legislation has made decision-makers cautious: so downgrading selection criteria that could result in indirect age discrimination. Conversely, senior leaders often don’t understand the values, beliefs and career expectations of their diverse workforce – particularly the Millennials – and are therefore over-cautious in identifying talent.
What is emerging talent? Many clients we work with focus their attention on people in their early careers. The definition of ‘emerging talent’ for one private sector client includes having no previous management experience. Another public sector client invests in younger leaders as a proactive way of addressing its workforce age imbalance. But we are also seeing a noticeable proportion of mature and experienced individuals being put forward for emerging talent development programmes. 20% of nominees for a financial services client’s emerging talent programme were aged over 40, and a similar age group was evident in a pharmaceutical client’s global high potential scheme. These varying definitions challenge decision-makers and assessors to think hard about what constitutes ‘emerging
Tackling bias A good place to start is to ask how prevalent are the following biases – unspoken or otherwise – in your organisation, and what questions you can ask to break them down. Bias 1: Our organisation thrives on fresh blood and thinking: young individuals in the early stages of their career show most potential for leadership succession. How do we define potential? YSC’s recent research into the JDI characteristics of potential – Judgement, Drive and Influence – showed that age was not a differentiator of potential when level was taken into account. Bias 2: Long tenure and a slow career path is evidence of an individual lacking drive and confidence. What is the role context? Does the individual’s motivation and steady progression prepare them more thoroughly for the next challenge? “It’s about making sure we’ve got the right people in the right jobs at the right time,” notes an HR leader in the InterContinental Hotels Group. “We don’t put a huge focus on ageing per se; the key thing for us is to find talent.” (Economist Intelligence Unit, 2014) Bias 3: Older employees are more cynical. They find it harder to adapt to change, handle new technology and take on board new ideas, let alone come up with their own. What is the organisational context? Research describes organisational
cynicism as a learned response from workplace experiences (Volpe et al, 2014). Are individuals with more experience under their belt better suited for some leadership roles in taking the organisation forward? If so, where do we need to look beyond cynicism and find new ways to tap into their underlying motivations and drivers? Bias 4: We need our emerging talent to look right. They need to look like leaders of the future, not the past. What is the strategic context? This factor is reported as a top priority of CEOs in remaining relevant and competitive (PwC, 2016). But what do leaders of the future need to look like? What characteristics of the past do we want to leave behind and what do we want to hold on to?
Older, motivated colleagues who have seen several cycles of change, are well placed to convert their experience into wisdom.
talent’ or ‘high potential’ in their businesses. As with other areas of diversity, it seems we need to challenge our assumptions to reflect current realities about age.
In an increasingly unpredictable, complex and ambiguous world, change in organisations is the new normal. Today’s leaders encounter ever more frequent disruptions to their business cycles – whether from new technology, competitors, business models, or community scrutiny – requiring sophisticated judgement calls about when to act and when to show caution. Jumping at every threat or opportunity can create change fatigue and destroy a company over time. Older, motivated colleagues, who have seen several cycles of change, are well placed to convert their experience into wisdom in these conditions.
The power of conversations So where does this leave us? Research (Kinley & Ben-Hur, 2013) – and experience – indicate that the quality of an individual’s conversations with their line manager is critical to spotting talent and unlocking potential at any age. Indeed, the latest approaches to performance management highlight the need for more frequent reviews and different types of ratings. If these forge a deeper understanding in managers of how to spot and nurture untapped capabilities, they could challenge established ways of assessing talent. That might seem rather a surprising point of view, coming from a firm that delivers leading-edge assessment services from graduate to boardroom level. But if companies were to invest more of their time, energy and budgets upskilling line managers (including those at the most senior levels) to have more powerful conversations, we may see far better results in terms of leadership succession. References: Erickson, T. (2012) Management When the Old Outnumber the Young, Harvard Business Review. Kinley, N. & Ben-Hur, S. (2013). Talent Intelligence: What You Need to Know to Identify and Measure Talent. London: John Wiley & Sons. Kinley, N. & Ben-Hur S. (2015), Changing Employee Behavior. London: Palgrave-Macmilan. Older But None The Wiser? The implications of an ageing workforce in the UK. Economist Intelligence Unit, 2014. Volpe, R. L., Mohammed, S., Hopkins, M., Shapiro, D., & Dellasega, C. (2014). The Negative Impact of Organizational Cynicism on Physicians and Nurses The Health Care Manager, 33(4), 276–288.
Joanna Bleau is a Director and Jonathan Dean is a Consultant, both based in YSC’s Edinburgh office. T: +44 (0)131 228 7940 / firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
than ever, organisations are prioritising diversity – according to PwC, 23% of CEOs have made it a top priority in 2016. They are running unconscious bias training, re-assessing flexibility, establishing employee working groups and setting up D&I councils to ensure diversity is no longer a ‘nice to have’.
Great Expectations: Emerging Leaders And Diversity By Stacy Richardson & Gabriela Leighton
“Helping Millennials understand their personal leadership qualities, and how they can be used to create diverse and inclusive workplaces, is one of the essential strategic strands of talent management today”, argues Stacy Richardson.
Emerging leaders face a vast number of exciting opportunities and challenges as they begin their leadership journey: from learning to transition away from being an individual contributor and discovering what great leadership looks like; to trying to identify the talent and support they
need around them to succeed. Although organisations are certainly aware and, in varying degrees, supportive of these steps, they often overlook the opportunities that emerging leaders present for Diversity and Inclusion (D&I). They may be missing a trick because now, more
In fact, D&I may be one area where today’s emerging leaders won’t need much awareness training and education. As likely Millennials (GenY’ers, born 1980-1995), they’ve been raised in more culturally and ethnically diverse times than ever before, where equality in organisations has become an expectation. Indeed, the main thing that differentiates this generation from previous ones is the huge diversity within it. As Deloitte found in its 2014 ‘Millennial Survey’, they are more socially and environmentally aware than their predecessors – more values-driven, purposeful in how they live and work, and driven by what they think is right, both for themselves and others. What’s more, they’re expected to make up 75% of the workforce by 2025. Nonetheless, negative stereotypes about Millennials exist that contradict their potential for great leadership. We’ve all heard them (or said them!): Millennials are needy, individualistic, lazy and uncommitted. They have poor work ethics, little respect for authority and an overinflated sense of entitlement and expectation from their workplace. Yet data from YSC’s Career Navigations Diagnostic shows this is more than likely not the case, and certainly not applicable to an entire generation. Here are five key qualities that bust some of the stereotypes and illustrate how Millennial emerging leaders can become key early contributors to your organisation’s D&I journey.
Debunking the self-obsessed myth. YSC data has shown that the greatest difference between generations is in how much less value Millennials place on autonomy compared with older generations, who, by contrast, placed autonomy high on their list of success factors. This aligns with more recent studies showing that Millennials are more likely to focus on teamwork and on creating a culture of connectivity when thinking of inclusion (Deloitte, 2015). In contrast with the more ‘commandcontrol’ approach of previous generations, Millennials tend to establish collaborative practices proactively and tap into a team’s existing diversity of thought.
2. Millennials ARE loyal According to our data, Millennials are more likely than any other generation to postpone a career move out of loyalty to their current manager and organisation, or a group of people within it. The ‘Millennial Leadership’ study found that the top two most desired leadership styles were ‘inspiring others with purpose and excitement’ and ‘leading democratically’. They want to work in – and, as leaders, create – cultures that engender followership. And they believe the most effective way to achieve this is by creating truly inclusive working environments where individuals are encouraged to be themselves.
3. Millennials really want to develop people
More than previous generations, Millennials define success by the personal and professional growth they experience.
What motivates them to move jobs is perceived stagnation in a role devoid of new challenges. They therefore tend to lead in a way that help others to grow and realise their professional ambition. How? By creating a ‘psychologically safe’ workplace where people can openly show vulnerability, share development areas and are keen to hear other perspectives. According to a ‘2015 Catalyst Survey’, the most inclusive leaders are known to create psychologically safe work environments where there is a shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking. The impact on team members, as Prof Amy Edmondson of Harvard Business School noted in 2002, is that individuals learn and improve by openly and critically reflecting on current or past performance.
safe environments cultivate the right conditions for great results and innovation.
5. Like most of us, Millennials want to lead in a supportive, purposeful environment
YSC data shows that Millennials who feel ‘extremely supported’ by their organisations also value organisational prestige and an opportunity to lead others, much more than those who feel less supported – and more than older generations who also feel extremely supported. Millennials are realistic and honest about their ability to help others succeed; they will not seek or readily accept leadership opportunities where they know that strong support for their own and others’ learning and development is unavailable or inconsistent. When visible and considerable support is in place, Millennials surge with purpose and a desire to lead. In the absence of it, they will move on.
The top two most desired leadership styles were ‘inspiring others with purpose and excitement’ and ‘leading democratically’. Summing it all up
4. Millennials don’t think they’re the expert
1. Millennials are less concerned with autonomy than we think
Related to earlier points on collaboration and professional growth, Millennials are desperate to learn. Contrary to stereotypes, YSC’s data says they are more likely than other generations (controlling for tenure) to postpone a role move due to concern over their level of experience or expertise. They are not as confident as others might like to think and, as leaders, are open to and keen for feedback and opportunities to learn from others. The upshot is that they aspire to create non-hierarchical, inclusive organisational structures that encourage learning and a culture of speaking up with new ideas or challenges to the status quo. These psychologically
The challenge for organisations is to ensure that Millennials develop into leaders who can leverage these qualities, which have the potential to change the nature of our workplaces. The answer is to start now! Helping Millennials understand their personal leadership qualities, and how they can be used to create diverse and inclusive workplaces, is one of the essential strategic strands of talent management today. As emerging leaders, the earlier they can begin to reshape the way D&I is lived (as opposed to ‘used’) in organisations, the better. Stacy Richardson is a Research Consultant and Gabriela Leighton is a Consultant, both based in YSC’s Sydney office. T: +61 (0)2 9252 3332 / firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
“Context is king when it comes to the development of emerging leaders”, argue Amit Desai and Vijay Gopal. Even the whizziest high potential programme will come to grief unless it chimes with the prevailing culture of a firm. And nowhere is this more true than in a vibrantly diverse country like India. Global firms have a pressing need to accelerate emerging leaders. These programmes are known by various names (from ‘high potential’ to ‘emerging leader development’) and have the noble intention of finding diamonds in the rough and polishing them up. But, as with many such schemes, their effectiveness and efficiency are mixed.
GOING FOR GOLD By Amit Desai & Vijay Gopal
Through our work with clients across the region, we have observed that context plays a major role in the efficacy of these programmes. By context, we mean the psychological, social and cultural factors underpinning their effectiveness. In this article, therefore, we focus on the underlying dynamics of emerging leader programmes. We define emerging leaders as individuals who are either first time managers, or are relatively new to leading teams and show promise in their ability to take on more complex leadership roles. Through our work on assessment and development of potential, we have gleaned the following insights:
Firms continue to confuse performance and potential. A surprising finding for us is that many firms have launched Emerging Leader Development Programmes (ELDPs) without a clear explanation of what potential means in their context – or, more importantly, clarifying how that definition of ‘potential’ is different from ‘performance’. When organisations have hundreds, if not thousands, of potential candidates to scour from, the screening and nomination process understandably focuses on managing scale efficiently. Processes become more automated than nuanced. Accordingly, criteria such as performance, tenure and loyalty play a larger part in the initial screening process. Therefore, a clear, precise and commonly understood meaning of ‘potential’, and what it isn’t, serves to anchor all subsequent decisions. A common practice is to use competencies as an indicator of potential. YSC believes that a ‘competency’ is what is demonstrated when innate potential has had the benefit of being shaped by exposure and experience to result in observable behaviours. Thus, we define ‘potential’ as ‘the inherent (but developable) qualities in people which are indicative of their likely ability to perform in future roles’. In other words, potential underpins competencies. A related difficulty in defining potential is that where performance is tangible and visible, potential is intangible and subjective. Potential calls for making a judgement rather than a measurement. It therefore requires clarity in its definition and precision in its application.
Potential is also contextual. By thinking through the range of job families and role opportunities a firm can provide, potential measurement and development can be more nuanced. Feedback can then proceed on the basis of “You have potential for Project Management roles, and not so much for General Management roles” rather than “You have regrettably not been identified as a high potential”.
leaders, an organisation’s culture is like a petri-dish providing an ecosystem within which they are shaped, grow and thrive.
“What is in it for me?” Firms neglect to align programmes with the motivation of the individual. In rapidly developing countries like India, a generation raised in an environment of scarcity with very few avenues of employment has given way to a generation that hasn’t known such deprivation – and, in fact, has an
increasing sense of entitlement. Society also now offers a wide variety of career options – and not just job opportunities – between competing firms. Consequently, the nature of job expectations and career plans is changing. Emerging leaders see a variety of ways to enhance their career, beyond traditional notions of vertical growth. The range of career concepts that guide their sequence of jobs is laid out below1:
Linear: This is the conventional model where individuals focus on upward movement – the higher they go, the more successful they feel. Consequently, it is rare for them to change the types of roles they undertake. Expert: In this model, individuals make career choices as a lifetime decision. They are committed to their occupation and motivated by desire to go in-depth and be an expert in their field. Spiral: Individuals guided by a Spiral career model strive for mastery. In that sense they seem similar to the Expert, but the difference lies in their motivation. Spirals are motivated by variety and broadening their horizons. They make additional career moves beyond their original career choice – building new career choices on the basis of past choices. In other words, they seek breadth where the Expert seeks depth. Transitory: Here, individuals make frequent changes in organisations and types of role. Variety and a sense of independence are the key motivators. 31
Duration in Field
Direction of Movement
Creativity Personal Growth
Figure 1: Summary of career models and their underlying motivations
What is clear in the current Indian societal context – and largely true for emerging economies – is that careers are moving from Linear and Expert (in response to an environment of scarcity) to Spiral and Transitory (as society shifts from scarcity to abundance). The underlying motivations of individuals are also changing in line with this transition (see Figure 1). So, we find that individuals now seek to fulfil motives beyond traditional means of security and stability. They have high aspirations and expect to be treated respectfully – preferring organisations that show flexibility and support for their lifestyles and creative interests. They want breadth of exposure, including geographically dispersed assignments that enhance their professional and personal development. They are also impatient for results, seeking a clear line of sight between where they are and where they want to be – gratification has to be immediate.
In mentoring and coaching young and upcoming leaders, senior managers are often prone to thinking from a more traditional career framework. Organisations need to prepare for the changing aspirations of the next
generation; and, to that extent, they need to design interventions that resonate with such a restless cohort. The 2011 PwC Report ‘Millennials at Work – Reshaping the Workplace’, singles out ‘working with strong coaches and mentors’ and ‘changes of roles to gain experience’ as the top two most valued learning opportunities by Millennials, with 71% of those surveyed keen to work abroad at some stage in their career2. In implementing role transitions as a part of gaining broader experience, we have an interesting observation from one of our senior clients. In her experience, high potentials do not consistently spark when they are rotated across roles. Her learning? They need transition coaching as they move through Spiral or Transitory career tracks. Her point is that while change happens on the outside of the individual, transition is what happens inside their minds. Individuals need to be helped through the psychological process of change (such as anxiety, excitement, confusion, reframing and resolution)3. An experienced executive can serve as a transition coach – maximising the chances of success as people move through various roles.
When culture meets process; culture wins.
For nascent leaders, an organisation’s culture is like a petri-dish providing an ecosystem within which they are shaped, grow and thrive. In emerging markets, there is a greater variation of organisations and far greater diversity in organisational cultures compared to developed countries. Indeed, in countries such as India where society is itself culturally diverse, there is no uniform culture that cuts across a broad swathe of organisations. Attempting to replicate a ‘best practice’ from a multi-national into a home-grown company is thus unlikely to work – it will clash with innate beliefs about what good leadership looks like, assumptions about how much to differentiate among and invest in leaders, and norms around what needs to be preserved and what needs to be given up.
It can become a challenging issue when you have long-tenured and ageing managers confronting a young and restless emerging generation of leaders.
It is therefore helpful, as a first step, to dissect the existing organisational culture and then design an emerging leaders programme within that context. To take one example, a senior OD Head observed that when she planned and organised the high potential programme in her company as ‘an organisational project’, instead of an HR development initiative, she started getting traction – because her organisation valued structure, plans and processes with governance mechanisms and steering committees for critical projects. Though this was not her style, she learnt to position, organise and communicate in a manner that line managers could relate to within their operating culture. Since a firm’s organisational culture is often embodied in the behaviour of its managers, it can become a challenging issue when you have long-tenured and ageing managers confronting a young and restless emerging generation of leaders – a situation all too common in many emerging markets. The problem is especially acute if the line manager is not in any high potential development programme and his / her subordinates are. Older managers then tend to see the younger ones as upstarts, and experience resentment as well as anxiety. That stops them buying psychologically into the programme and may lead to them, consciously or unconsciously, sabotaging it – say, by not releasing high potentials for assignments because they believe that current deliverables will suffer. This is where an organisation’s leadership can play a pivotal role in re-framing what it means to be a manager in a firm. The senior executive of one firm spoke to us about how they had recast the role of managers as active shapers of the future talent of the firm – with the result that developing future leaders is now
as much a ‘deliverable’ as any other hard performance metric in the firm. Our view corroborates her experience: unless the development of emerging leaders boils down to the individual accountability of line managers (or a single line manager), policies and processes will remain just that – ritualised activities requiring compliance rather than commitment.
We strongly believe that companies gain far greater impact from emerging leaders’ programmes when they take into account the psychological and social contracts of employment (i.e. the context). We also believe that this is a core missing ingredient in most organisations, and our own research indicates how damaging it can be: a recent survey of managers found that only 49% of change attempts were thought to have actually worked; and only 9% of managers were confident that they know how to help behaviour stay changed over time4. Developing emerging leaders involves change – change that is intimate, intense and personal. It is therefore all the more
crucial that context is considered in something as distinctive as developing one’s leadership capabilities. Amit Desai & Vijay Gopal are Managing Consultants based in YSC’s Mumbai office. T: +91 22 6671 9917/8 / firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
1. Quoted in Kinley, Nik and Ben-Hur, Shlomo (2015). (pp 53-55) a. D river, M.J. (1979). Career concepts and career management in organisations. In C. L. Cooper (Ed.), Behavioural Problems in Organizations (pp 79-139). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall 2. Millennials at Work – Reshaping the workplace; 2011, PwC 3. Adapted from https://www.linkedin.com/ pulse/20140904230656-88081051-the-humanside-of-change-management 4. Kinley, Nik and Ben-Hur, Shlomo (2015). Changing Employee Behaviour. (pp 5). Palgrave Macmillan
Amit and Vijay would like to thank their colleagues in the Mumbai Office for pooling-in their experiences, and the clients who took time out to generously share their experience and learning.
Surfing the talent wave Spotlight on By Cher Hill (YSC) & Julia Stevenson (Scottish Water)
Scottish Water was keen to harness the energy created by a wave of young leadership talent. Here Cher Hill and Julia Stevenson describe how the water utility partnered with YSC to get the spigots flowing. Even discounting obvious advantages like beauty of location, Scottish Water sounds like a great place to work. The utility company, which has sole responsibility for supplying water and sewerage for the whole of Scotland, takes an enlightened approach to its 3,700-strong workforce. A fundamental tenet is that: “we believe that all our employees have talent and that these talents should be developed and deployed to best effect across the business”. Employees have responded in kind with the loyalty and commitment that companies in faster-flowing environments might only admire. Retention rates are high, as are levels of employee engagement and skill. But with these advantages come risks. A third of Scottish Water’s workforce is currently over 50, and 75% are male, notes the organisation’s Strategy, Leadership and Talent Lead, Julia Stevenson. Clearly, without action
to manage the demographics, the organisation faces a steep talent cliff edge within the next decade.
Refreshing the talent pool In late 2013, Scottish Water took a detailed look at its workforce and devised a new talent management strategy. The plan was to create a company-wide initiative that would pull together every aspect of the talent lifecycle – from attraction and identification, right through to development, deployment and retention/ release. Topping the list of priorities was homing in on the critical talent segments that would be needed in the future – including identifying a cadre of emerging leaders to improve its leadership ‘succession depth’. “We wanted to find a way of refreshing the talent pool. But since we don’t have a high turnover, creating opportunities can be quite difficult,” says Stevenson. The answer was a two-year
accelerated development programme that would enable high-potential individuals “to make significant and effective leadership transitions” within the organisation.
Ones to watch Scottish Water had run high potential programmes in the past, but the selection process had been conducted in-house. “We felt that this time it was really important that there was seen to be a consistent evaluation because the people we were targeting were at a level below leadership level”, says Stevenson. As a first step to gauging the breadth of future talent, Business Managers were asked to nominate individuals who had impressed them as ‘ones to watch’ against a broad set of criteria. That enabled a group of Scottish Water ‘Talent Spotters’ to review over 200 nominees and narrow the list to around 50 individuals who were deemed to have good short and long term potential. YSC then carried out “a further robust talent exercise” – underpinned by the Judgement, Drive and Influence (JDI) Model – involving a one-to-one YSC View assessment, consisting of psychometrics and a semi-structured interview with a YSC consultant, followed by a written feedback report and followup conversation. Following this process, in October 2014, a cohort of 21 employees from this group (16 women and five men) were chosen to take part in the Future Leaders Programme.
The two-year programme was designed on the 70:20:10 principle of learning – blending relevant role experience with learning support networks and ‘formal’ learning interventions. YSC’s role was to provide specific development help with development planning and JDI 360 surveys, and they supported line managers with interpreting feedback on individuals to help individuals shape and implement their development plans. Structured job moves to fill development gaps were a key element of the programme design. “Because it was driven by development needs of participants, rather than on previous track record, the ‘managed move’ process has involved a lot of trust on the part of recruiting line managers,” says Stevenson. “It has been crucial for people to be credible and to be successful when they moved into new roles and YSC added real value to that process with their robust and insightful candidate insights.”
The verdict, 18 months on On the most tangible measure of the programme’s success – actual career moves within Scottish Water – there can be no doubting its efficacy. As Stevenson reports, 18 individuals from the first cohort have taken on new roles to date (many within the first six months of the programme) and some have already been promoted to Business Manager level. More fundamentally, perhaps, there has been ‘universally good’ feedback. “Participants have found the whole process invaluable in terms of adding awareness and insight,” she
says. “So much of the value of this is just a chance to take stock of where they are, where they want to go and what the perception around them might be. We didn’t set out to pick a particular gender or age group. But the demographics of the company are gradually becoming younger and more diverse – and that is now being increasingly reflected in the leadership pipeline.”
So much of the value of this process is in people taking stock of where they are, where they want to go, and what the perception around them might be. Julia Stevenson, Scottish Water
The First Cohort of Future Leaders
A long-term culture change An important knock-on effect of Scottish Water’s Future Leaders Programme has been the increase of focus on, and time devoted to, leadership talent and succession at board level. “The Chief Executive and Senior Leadership Team have been hugely supportive,” notes Stevenson. And coaching has been important to the process. “We’ve asked senior leaders to become coaching qualified themselves. Most of them have loved it and now some of the future leaders have asked for it too. As a result, we’ve developed quite a coaching culture.”
Second time around... Positive feedback from the wider business contributed to Scottish Water’s decision to
repeat the Future Leaders Programme – with one big difference. “For the second cohort, we moved to self-nomination and needed to ensure that the selection process was extra robust,” says Stevenson. “Unless you get the right people on the programme, you get disgruntlement.” – a measure, perhaps, of how quickly the scheme’s advantages percolated through the business. “This time, we had 103 applications, 65% of whom were male and 22 were ultimately successful (50% male, 50% female). I think we’ve silenced the cynics.” “There is something really important about shared ownership,” agrees Cher Hill, Head of YSC View. “We conducted an even deeper analysis for the second cohort than we’d done previously. The approach was more targeted – and more joined up, pulling everything together to think of the pipeline beyond. By getting to know Scottish Water and its people better, we think can become still more helpful in the future”. YSC’s outside perspective has been vital to the success of the Future Leaders Programme, concludes Stevenson. “It’s been very reassuring to have the YSC analysis, and to be able to compare our intake with benchmark data using a consistent model. Beyond that, gaining such in-depth insight into themselves has been invaluable for the individuals concerned. The general consensus within the business was that YSC had got our people down to a tee!” Cher Hill is a Managing Consultant based in YSC’s London office. T: +44 (0)20 7520 5555 / firstname.lastname@example.org. Julia Stevenson is Strategy, Leadership and Talent Lead, Scottish Water.
A Star is Born Why a focus on performance may be hindering talent spotting’s potential By Shane Crabb
When it comes to financial investments, no company would argue that past performance is the best indicator of future potential. So why fall back on the theory when it comes to spotting talent? Here, Shane Crabb outlines some of the risks of confusing Performance with Potential – and the great benefits to be reaped when you put pure Potential first. The Context
Talent spotting is failing. That is the broad view of many business leaders who are throwing billions at finding their future stars, but not seeing a return on their investment. Perceived talent shortages are focusing businesses on their internal talent supply. This is nothing new, but the problem has been made perennial by the fact that too many organisations are not focusing on the right areas. Consequently, only 40% of business leaders think their talent pipeline is growing fast enough; and only 23% of firms say they have enough High Potentials ‘HiPos’ to meet future business demand. Increased
talent mobility, an ageing workforce and the onset of the digital era make the operating context more complex and volatile than ever before. But the supply of talent to take businesses into this brave new world is apparently not keeping up with demand.
The Challenge Organisations are confusing potential and performance when spotting talent. For many years, firms have attempted to distinguish Performance from Potential using talent management tools such as the ‘9-box grid’. This tool supposedly helps
businesses to partial out Performance and Potential: categorising talent into nine distinct categories to inform future workforce planning. But, although positive in principle, this approach is often flawed in practice. Why? Because organisations confuse Performance with Potential. They are clear on the performance metrics, but are far less clear on what potential ‘looks like’. Given the lack of clarity and consistency on what defines ‘Potential’, trying to look for it can be a daunting task. A line manager once shared with me the thoughts that go through her head when asked by HR, “who has the most Potential in your team?”
• Assuming I am looking for potential for enterprise leadership, what will that look like in five years? • Even if I knew what it looked like in five years, what should I be looking for in my talent now? Managers are busy people with multiple priorities. As such, when picking their ‘HiPos’ they will be inclined to base their response on the safest criteria possible: tangible, objective data that is difficult to challenge and disprove. In other words: Talent spotters use Performance as an indicator of future Potential. By ‘Performance’, we mean how effective someone is against their role’s existing measures of success. It is widely recognised that three key factors contribute towards someone’s Performance: 1) The person: who they are. 2) Their capabilities: skills, knowledge and competence. 3) Their context: situation, environment, stakeholders, rewards.
‘HiPo’ could prove anything but once their context becomes more stretching, causing disillusioned business leaders to conclude that talent spotting is failing.
100% 90% 70%
20% 10% 0% Context
A better strategy, therefore, is to look at potential in isolation from performance – by deliberately focusing solely on the personal qualities that are predictive of future success – before considering the types of environments and situations that would help the individual to realise future success. In other words: Talent spotters need to use Potential as an indicator of future Performance, rather than using Performance as an indicator of future Potential.
80% Goal Attainment
• Potential for what? What exactly am I looking for?
Person A Capability
Person B Potential
In this graph, both Person A and Person B are two heart surgeons with the same level of capability. Person A has a more favourable context than Person B: he By ‘Potential’, we mean an individual’s works in a world class hospital, with the potential for future success, based on their latest technology and highly skilled team developable personal qualities that predict around to support him. Person B works this success. Based on YSC’s experience and in a less prestigious hospital that has research into what makes people flourish, limited and outdated resources, and a these personal qualities include intellect small team of inexperienced colleagues and thinking style, inner drivers and to support her. Person A relies on his emotions, and insight into self and others context more than Person B to perform (see YSC’s JDI Model of Potential). and achieve his goals. Person B relies Using someone’s performance as an more on her personal qualities (Potential) indicator of future potential is a risky to perform and reach her goals. Basing strategy – not least because High future Potential on Performance would Performers may draw on a range of indicate both A and B are HiPo, yet Person contextual factors and capabilities to A’s future Performance is much more be successful: for example, having a likely to be impacted by changes in his strong team, an easy-going boss, and environment. Person B has much more the appropriate skills and knowledge. ‘raw’ Potential and her Performance is Change the person’s context and their more likely to remain robust in the face of contextual changes. performance may alter too. Those dubbed
This is not to say companies should ignore performance when managing talent, far from it. Just don’t be blindsided by it. There are times when certain experiences, capabilities and context are absolutely required to fill positions in the immediate or near future, particularly when it comes to specialist or senior roles. But when there is more time to nurture talent, companies should concentrate on shaping a tailored development plan around a person’s potential before considering the experiences, capabilities and other factors they will need to enhance their future performance. Bear in mind, too, that ‘Potential’ is not a fixed trait that someone either possesses or lacks forever. It is a dynamic, nuanced and interrelated set of qualities that can shift depending on how an individual is nurtured or hindered by their environment. The bottom line is that organisations need to look at talent through both the Potential and Performance lenses. Here are some tips that should help.
Go back to the drawing board Clearly define what Potential is, and is not – and how it differs from Performance. Use the personal qualities that predict future success and map out what good (and less good) ‘looks like’ across them. If
you already have a model or framework of Potential, look at it with a more critical lens. Ask yourself: “how many of these indicators are more about Performance? How many of these aspects are unique to our business or dependent on our environment?” Adapt the framework to make it more about the personal qualities of success, and less about the context in which your talent works. (See YSC’s JDI Model of Potential as a reference).
local, specific requests, opportunities and challenges. They would partner managers and others in identifying and developing talent through the lens of Potential.
Get people talking about Potential Make Potential distinctive, intuitive, and relevant to existing talent processes. Ensure that it clearly stands next to Performance metrics as its own entity in the appraisal system. Create a language of Potential that permeates the organisation and enables consistency and transparency about how future talent is identified. By defining Potential as an evolving, dynamic, and developable set of personal qualities, organisations can consider not ‘how much Potential’ someone has, but ‘how they have Potential’. Such a framework will enable managers to consider who has potential for what, so opening up a range of further possibilities for your talent.
Build a diverse team of Potential ‘champions’
Select and train a small, crossorganisational and cross-functional team of Potential ‘champions’ to embed the language of Potential across the firm. These individuals should be recognised talent builders: advocates who are not afraid to back those they recognise as talented, and are prepared to help colleagues develop. Potential champions would be responsible for embedding standardised approaches across the business, but also for responding to more
direct experience or capability? This is talent spotting using Performance, and it can limit the diversity, breadth and depth of your future successors. By using Potential as a means to predict future Performance, organisations can look beyond the obvious searching grounds to consider a much wider and diverse talent pool. This smashes silos and builds diverse teams across the firm, leading to more enriched working cultures and improved business performance. Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and CEO, often hired those without the ‘exact’ experience to lead new business lines. They brought a fresh perspective and disrupted existing activities to change the game for the organisation. Challenge your business to cast its talent spotting net further afield to identify ‘pure’ Potential, then develop the necessary experiences and capabilities in those identified.
Track progress! Empower people managers Often managers resist backing their lesser-known talent through fear of getting it wrong. Would they have the confidence to back a sub-standard performer whom they see as having raw Potential? Create the conditions that empower managers to act on their insights. Give them the confidence to make bold talent decisions and the skills to back up their assertions. Be tolerant of the occasional ‘bad call’ on talent, but make sure managers and the organisation learn from their mistakes and are able to build on them.
Dig deeper, look wider How often does your organisation veto highly talented individuals for future roles because of their current lack of
Make sure your business has identified key success factors for your talent initiatives early on, and track your progress over time. Ask yourself: “how will we know that we have developed and invested in the right people 10-20 years from now?” What resources and infrastructure need to be in place to answer that question with confidence and rigour? By tracking relevant individual and organisational metrics, your organisation can evolve and adapt its talent spotting activities to meet your specific needs and ambitions. Shane Crabb is a Managing Consultant based in YSC’s San Francisco office. T: +1 (415) 746 9720 / email@example.com
JOIN THE COACH PARTY By Darin de Klerk
Companies tend to view coaching as the domain of senior executives. “But why not spread the benefits”, says Darin de Klerk. Here he explains how YSC’s new ‘learning plus’ model offers the best of both worlds to those further down the corporate pecking order. Coaching, as a learning support tool, tends to get deployed mainly at senior levels of organisations – generally due to cost factors and the level of ‘importance’ placed on a company’s executive leaders, who arguably need more bespoke support to manage the complexity and specificity of the challenges they face. Further down the organisation, we tend to assume that leadership is leadership is leadership – a series of tasks that don’t require specific knowledge or distinctive skill to be successfully completed. And, in that environment, surely training is a perfectly apt learning tool? Organisations are constantly under pressure to be savvier about how they invest in people – and the thinking goes that there’s no value to be had from spending money on bespoke skill development for emerging leaders. At their level of development, generic management knowledge and skills are more likely to have an impact. Developing a distinctive and authentic sense of their leadership style –
and formulating the kind of impact they would like to have as individuals – typically comes further along the leadership pathway.
YSC’S HYBRID APPROACH Yet there’s a dawning realisation in many companies that training per se may not be enough to support this significant transition. The problem is that alternatives are in short supply and, rather than offer traditional, boring offthe-shelf skills training, some simply elect to do nothing. We think that’s a wasted opportunity. To counter it, we’ve devised an alternative offering that bridges the gap – one that combines training with coaching in a tailor-made way to support the varied learning needs of individual emerging leaders. The transition from an individual contributor into management can be quite challenging for inexperienced emerging leaders. Training offers a catch-all way of providing key messages,
best practice examples and tools to build into their repertoire. But there’s always a risk that these generic guidelines never feel like a natural fit, and can lead to unsuitably ‘clunky’ leadership styles. Inauthenticity creeps in when unnecessary pressure is put on managers to conform to a specific role model or to emulate an exceptional individual. The opportunity to create an authentic, bespoke management style, that fits both the leader and the context, is lost – with possibly significant long-term implications.
ENTER THE COACH
By drawing on the bespoke principles of Executive Coaching, we aim to highlight and address the specific needs of emerging leaders. The principles of coaching are underpinned by one key understanding: that the coachee is resourceful – and therefore able to identify, with support, what is required to find solutions to problems. Coaching typically provides a space to explore situations: coach and the coachee work together, as equals, to frame the agenda; and the coachee is questioned, challenged and supported to work towards change and action. This type of intervention is applicable across a spectrum of leadership and management levels, but rarely applied lower down in an organisation. We think our hybrid approach – combining traditional coaching, mentoring and feedback with best-practice learning – breaks the mould. Think of it as a kind of ‘learning plus’ alternative. Your emerging leaders will thank you for it in the long run. Darin de Klerk is a Senior Consultant based in YSC’s London office. T: +44 (0)20 7520 5555 / firstname.lastname@example.org
International Perspectives: Around the World: Global Perspectives on the evolving global market
LatAm – Because of the political, social and economic
instability in most of its countries, LatAm is a region full of complexities and challenges. But it is also full of possibilities. And one of the key lessons for emerging leaders in this environment is that, in order to develop themselves, they may need to focus on others first. Our local data consistently shows that high potential leaders are individuals with a very strong drive for results and a belief that their own performance defines everything. Yet success, long term, is dependent on building resilient teams by nurturing and developing other leaders. It is therefore crucial that these leaders give more support to the wellness and sustainability of their teams. We are working with the region’s emerging leaders to help them achieve important shifts in behaviour and mind-sets so that they can become more authentic and inclusive leaders. This should help them to build strong relationships and networks across different cultures and geographies – enabling them to navigate both organisational politics and to tackle an increasingly VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world. Nora Taboada is Managing Consultant, based in Mexico City. email@example.com
US – Emerging leaders today are challenged with
operating in a VUCA world – they are expected to react to market shifts, short-term horizons and newer technologies that entail unceasing connectivity. The best way to manage these tensions – and find the meaning that carries them through all the 4am conference calls – is to anchor themselves to their organisations’ mission and vision. Leaders who thrive, rather than merely survive, have learned three crucial skills. First, they deploy sharp judgement to focus on what matters. Secondly, they realise that agility is vital; they adapt to the external market and changing internal structures and relationships and, where necessary, are prepared to tear down outdated structures. Finally, they exercise self-compassion. Rather than focusing on their failures, they accept their humanity, use their curiosity and learn from them. These resilient emerging leaders are having a significant impact on business outcomes while additionally serving as role-models for the talent beneath them. Emily Amdurer is a former Senior Consultant. firstname.lastname@example.org
South Africa – As 2016 unfolds, the ‘Africa Rising’ narrative of the early decade seems
tantalisingly out of reach. In South Africa, we have a dominant political party with no clear turnaround strategy to revitalise economic growth and tackle 50% youth unemployment. Nonetheless, SA is known for both resilience and optimism – and we are a still-learning young democracy whose strengths include a thriving financial sector. There is increasing focus across Africa on developing local leadership. In SA, this is enshrined in a legal framework driving black economic empowerment. But, after 20 years, the impact has been minimal: whites make up just 10% of the workforce, yet hold over 60% of top management positions. The only way to address the imbalance is to invest in education and development; in our field, that means investment in the right forms of leadership development. The most important interventions will focus on leadership behaviour and confidence – black leaders often grapple with a sense that their identity does not sit in ‘western’ corporate boardrooms. We are currently working with business leaders and politicians to address this psychological legacy, and support organisations to identify and develop ‘nonstandard’ talent optimally and equably. The solutions will be as relevant for the rest of the world as they are to Africa. Damien Anciano is Managing Director & Head of YSC Africa, based in Cape Town. email@example.com
India – Most Indian professionals have grown up in a hockey-stick economy. In response to
such rapid growth, the capabilities they developed the most were the ability to satisfy market demands. They developed strong operational and execution skills as a response to high demand. But established skillsets now seem out of sync in an environment of slowing growth and heightened competition. A new generation of leaders is bringing intent, aspiration and dynamism to the table, but they lack rounded leadership experience. How, then, do we support them to develop the resilience, agility, depth and breadth they’ll need to manage the expectations that will be placed on them? Essentially, the answer can be boiled down to five points. Speed up iteration of experiences. We don’t have the luxury of 10-15 years to ‘grow’ these leaders. Hence we need to find ways to squeeze an experience set of a decade into 3-4 years. Hold on to your retiring senior leaders. Appoint them as mentors and advisors, but don’t allow them to create barriers for success to the young. Measure for potential scientifically. Bring in outside perspectives to senior leadership selection, to avoid ‘confirmation bias’. Use a consistent and unbiased method. Get deeper board involvement. Boards need to get more deeply involved in succession to at least two levels below the CEO. Revise competency sets. Many organisations are still relying on 10 or 15 year-old competency sets when assessing senior leaders. These urgently need to be revised and made relevant. Gurprriet Siingh is Director & Head of YSC India, based in Mumbai. firstname.lastname@example.org
Europe – Multinational organisations tend to approach talent management
from the perspective of their home nation. We think talent management (and emerging talent in particular) should be viewed in a more multi-dimensional way, taking into account different markets, cultures, educational approaches, political structures and economic jurisdictions. One thing uniting a new generation of leaders across Europe is their inherent conflict with the established, industrialised, traditional corporate cultures. The upshot is two contradictory trends. One points to a new generation demanding management change and advancement in line with their own experience of a more agile, social-media savvy, individualist culture. Another points to continuing evidence that when emerging leaders enter the culture, it is they who change, not the organisation. Whichever is true, if an older generation of leaders blocks access to opportunity – and continues to run the system according to rules built in another age – we will see mounting tensions. Organisations need to futureproof themselves by placing bets on people much more widely than in the past, and by developing talent management practices that cross cultural and geographical boundaries. As if anticipating this, we are starting to see far more investment in line managers and technology to understand, predict and unlock potential in all talent – as opposed to fast-tracking an exclusive few. Joanna Bleau is a Director, based in Edinburgh. email@example.com
ANZ – In the Antipodes, as elsewhere in the world, the nature of work is
changing at an unprecedented rate. Almost every established business model faces disruption by enhanced technology and unprecedented customer power. As established players seek to hold their own against challengers, innovation and entrepreneurship are high on the agenda. The mining boom, which sheltered Australia from the worst of the financial crisis, is over and a rapidly-expanding services sector is emerging in its place. But although the economy is proving more resilient than many expected, optimism is tempered by ongoing global uncertainty. Because of Australia’s increased interdependence with our Asian neighbours – and the growth of virtual and geographically-dispersed teams – leaders, more than ever, need to understand the nuances of different cultures. To survive, and thrive, in the digital age, they must foster innovation, deliver solutions in new ways, and leverage data analytics to better understand customer and market trends. Driving business transformation requires people who can embrace challenge, deal with ambiguity, and build resilience in themselves and others. Organisations are looking to emerging leaders to provide a different type of leadership to what has gone before. The need to accelerate leadership development and stretch High Potentials beyond functional expertise has never been greater. David Bowman is a Managing Consultant, based in Sydney. firstname.lastname@example.org
Middle East – The region
has undergone sweeping changes since the so-called Arab Spring. Saudi Arabia has a new King undertaking a major reform of the government and economy. The United Arab Emirates has appointed a young woman as Youth Minister and a new Minister for Happiness. Dubai continues with an aggressive growth agenda ahead of hosting Expo 2020. And, for the first time, the Saudi Government is seeking advice on issuing shares in its national oil company. Nonetheless, the low oil price has impacted all sectors of the economy. Jobs are being lost (though, for the moment, cuts are largely restricted to ex-pats) and so there are fewer people to deliver challenging targets in companies: governments with pressing agendas are putting more local nationals in senior roles. The consequence is that emerging leaders are faced with greater levels of management and leadership responsibility at an earlier age than in more mature markets. Organisations are investing in their talent pipelines, but many are struggling to develop young leaders as quickly as they need to. Managing with reduced budgets and fewer people requires new and more innovative approaches. Fastpaced development initiatives for emerging leaders, supported by mentoring and coaching, will be critical to commercial success. Gerard Fitzsimmons is Director & Head of YSC Dubai. email@example.com
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Many companies are looking for ways to accelerate the development of their talent as they expand operations into new markets, deal with an a...
Published on Oct 24, 2016
Many companies are looking for ways to accelerate the development of their talent as they expand operations into new markets, deal with an a...