Companies need to inspire, not just hire

GE focuses on development of new-world leaders.

In a blog for hbr.com, GE's Chief Talent Officer, Susan Peters, describes the company's redoubled focus on talent acquisition and retention. It brought together 21 millennials from its global businesses, and gave them a three-month assignment to figure out how GE can hire and keep members of its own generation.
 
"We named the effort "Global New Directions," Peters blogged, "and we knew we'd picked the right people almost immediately when they told us that they didn't want to retain employees, they wanted to inspire them."
 
Ideas conceived by the group were presented up the chain to CEO Jeff Immelt, and are being implemented. They include developing a personalized benefits program to better suit a diverse workforce, using gaming technology to encourage engagement from prospective employees, and deploying new performance feedback systems that will enable continuous feedback and coaching.
 
The end game is to develop the next generation of leaders, according to Peters:

"Tomorrow's global leaders possess an exemplary external focus — they collaborate not only with customers but with a wide range of stakeholders including governments, regulators, NGOs, and community groups."

"Leaders are adaptive and agile, clear thinkers who are not only decisive but able to connect strategy to purpose in a way that fosters commitment."

"Leaders possess both the imagination to innovate and the courage to implement — they're willing to take risks to champion ideas."

"Leaders are inclusive — it's the only way to build great teams."

"Leaders constantly seek to deepen their expertise and motivate others to do the same."

Talent is a hot topic in communciations today, but we don't spend much time talking about leadership, even though those working their way up, and those trying to build first-class teams, are craving insights. Some organizations are looking to fill the void, such as Gagen MacDonald, which last year launched a program called "Let go and Lead". The project features videos of creative and business icons who express leadership through innovation, community and other traditional and non-traditional channels. Check out Starbucks' Howard Schultz on "connecting with purpose and meaning" for one good example.

Communications teams are always looking for great talent, but too often that focus is on the near-term needs, and not on long-term leadership needs. It's time for the industry to raise the level of discussion around talent, and look to create more inspirational leaders of its own.

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