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Jan 30, 2013

Attracting, retaining, and optimizing talent — and doing it successfully — is the new leadership call to action.

The quality and potential of your talent determines the productive capacity of your organization and will very likely correlate sharply with your potential for success and corporate profits.

Intangible talent assets like creativity, courage, commitment, persistence, passion, ingenuity, and knowledge may not show up anywhere on your financial statement, but they are characteristics that may ultimately determine the fate of your company.

Apple, Nike, and Google are exceptional corporate examples of this. What would these companies have become without the abundance of these traits among their workforces? What could your organization achieve if you also encouraged and developed this kind of talent?

Focused strategies generate better results

The Corporate Executive Board has found that by focusing their talent management strategies, the best leaders generate as much as a 7 percent boost in revenue and profit performance over their less talent-focused peers. In addition, they achieve higher talent outcomes across the board, including employee effort levels that are 25 percent higher than average and markedly better retention rates, with only 6 percent of their employees at risk of turnover.

Despite the compelling financial returns, Corporate Leadership Council research finds that only 19 percent of senior executives are committed to and effective at the talent management disciplines necessary to achieve these outcomes. We’ve got to change that and make talent development a priority. Leaders must realize many of the solutions they seek can be found in the people they employ.

However, as worthwhile and profitable as it is to tap the full talents of your employees, doing so is only the beginning of your quest to unleash all the talent opportunities around you.

Valuable insights can come from ALL stakeholders

Increasingly, leaders are realizing the equally abundant insights that are available from the full spectrum of stakeholders in the company — customers, suppliers, shareholders, channel partners, and the community in which they operate. Ignoring these other stakeholders is squandering an opportunity to access vitally important data that’s there for the asking.

In his wonderful book, Practically Radical, William C. Taylor summarizes this idea elegantly:

In an interconnected world bursting with smart, well-trained, enthusiastic people, the most powerful ideas often come from the most unexpected places: the quiet genius locked deep inside the organization, the collective genius that surrounds the organization, the hidden genius of customers, suppliers, and other constituencies who would be happy to share what they know if they were asked.

All too often, we barely scratch the surface of what the people we work with are capable of contributing to us, of what the people we sell to are capable of teaching us, of what the people we come into contact with are capable of sharing with us—if only we would look beyond their resume, formal training, or official place in the hierarchy. As a leader, you never know what people are capable of doing until you invite them to show you what they can do.”

Extend the invitation — soon — and unleash the talent that is waiting to flourish in and around your organization.

This was originally published on the OC Tanner blog.