Leadership Secrets to Mine for Extraordinary Talent
31 Jan

Leadership Secrets to Mine for Extraordinary Talent

Are you mining for extraordinary talent to fill your high potential pipeline? Great people are the essential strands of corporate DNA and your most valuable asset. Find creative ways to mine for the best of the best, and you’ll reap incalculable rewards, both now and in the future. I have four key secrets that my corporate clients find extremely valuable – whether they are trying to identify amazing people internally or externally. I used some of these same proven techniques when I was locating and developing next-level leaders for Macy’s as a Fortune 100 executive.

1) Keep a Short List of Underperformers

While it may sound counterintuitive, knowing who needs to go next is the first step in filling important positions. Make a list of those individuals who are not working out as planned, and keep it handy. Then scout someone who is a better fit for your organizational DNA. When you find the right person, you’ll know who to let go in order to create a vacancy. That allows you to strategically replace them, without creating a disruptive talent gap on your team.

2) Source Talent in Unlikely Place

Keep your ear to the ground and your eyes open, even outside your organization and even beyond your industry. You may find your next fantastic leader in unexpected or unlikely places. At Macy’s I would challenge my executives to source talent from banks, hotels, and other service industries. Oftentimes they found great sales people, assistant managers, and even managers or executives that we could bring aboard. Talented leaders don’t have to be familiar with your particular company or niche. They just have to know how to inspire and motivate people to higher levels of performance.

3) Hire Proactively Vs. Reactively

Reactionary leaders tend to entangle their teams in emergency management. Be intentional with your leadership. Continually analyze the DNA of your team, department, or division. What kind of person could make it significantly better? Adding someone with a particular background, depth of experience, or ability to communicate and collaborate can often trigger the multiplier effect. Suddenly everyone is more performance-oriented and morale is enhanced. Don’t wait until you need to hire someone, because that’s too late. Proactively study the situation. Survey the landscape. Even if you don’t have an opening yet, you may want to hire diamonds in the rough and start developing them, before someone else beats you to it.

4) Tell Your High Potentials They Are High Potentials

People need to know they matter to you and that their contributions are an essential element in your corporate DNA. Otherwise they’re going to leave in search of a leader who recognizes their greater value. Don’t wait for an exit interview to realize you could have done better to support them. Let them know they are capable of moving to the next level, and show them specific steps to take to earn more responsibility. Actively and vocally support them. If they know for certain that you are invested in their future they will accept any challenge you ask them to, and reward you with loyalty and their best work.

Once you have identified and recruited high potential team members, don’t let their value stagnate. To retain the best people and derive the most robust RIO from your leadership assets, continue to develop them. The more you can add value internally, the stronger, healthier, and more sustainable your corporate DNA will be. Plus it is so much cheaper to retain qualified people than it is to go out and hire new ones elsewhere. If you need help to improve and retain your talent pipeline, please contact me at [email protected]

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Sarah Hathorn
Sarah Hathorn, CEO of Hathorn Consulting Group, is the go-to-expert in working with leaders and companies to create successful corporate DNA. As an executive coach, consultant and speaker she collaborates globally with clients and brands such as Kimberly-Clark, Sherwin-Williams, Home Depot and other leading organizations.
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