Future of Talent Institute Weekly - Issue #19

21st Century Talent Leadership

Leadership is hard to define. One might say, “I know it when I see it, but I can’t tell you exactly what it is.” We have all probably worked for good leaders – people who inspired us, excited us, or challenged us. And, we have also all worked for good managers – people who carefully directed us, followed the process, met the numbers, and always followed through. Both are good. Both are necessary. And rarely do they come combined in a single package.

Recruiting is full of managers. These are the people who run their recruiting organizations efficiently and effectively. They implement processes, cautiously install technology, focus on customer satisfaction and stay within their budgets. As long as the world doesn’t change too much, they thrive.

But the world has changed and continues to change at a rapid and unpredictable pace and manner. And we need leaders more than ever - not more managers. What skills does the 21st century leader need to have? Is the past a predictor of those skills?

There are series of articles below that provide some insight into leadership in general, but here are four general rules or skill sets that a successful talent leader will need to follow to survive.

Rule #1: Be an experimenter

The future is unpredictable and no one knows what technology or process will lead to greater success. A leader faced with uncertainty embraces a variety of approaches and tools to make sure that she and her team are continuously learning and adapting to the changes around them.

Rule #2: Use Data

Effective leaders need to analyze the data they have so that they can spot both areas that are constraints and areas that are growing and take action. They should remove any people, procedures or policies that inhibit sharing and communication (including recruiters that won’t share candidates or information), and they should ruthlessly look for ways to make doing everything easier, faster and cheaper.

Challenge your team to use data to better identify what kind of talent is needed and become efficient in finding and hiring these types of people. Make all rewards based on team performance. Encourage sharing, cross learning, and leveraging each persons’ skills.

Rule #3: Anticipate the unanticipated

Be aware of trends and business changes and always be ready to shift direction. The ability to adapt to changing circumstances quickly is one of the surest signs of an excellent leader. One way to ensure you have adaptability is to hire diverse people with backgrounds that offer a variety of experiences and skills. Avoid hiring only deeply experienced functional experts. They often cannot think outside their box. See last week’s newsletter for a discussion of generalist vs specialist.


Five Essential Skills for Leadership in the 21st Century | Psychology Today

In a competitive world, we need leaders with novel ideas, who are willing to take risks, inspire and motivate, and build new strategic partnerships to address global challenges.

How to Lead in Ambiguous Times

Even though this is about geopolitical issues, it offers some interesting insights into leadership in general. Stability, resilience, and relationships are the keys to thriving amid geopolitical crises.

Roselinde Torres: What it takes to be a great leader | TED Talk Subtitles and Transcript | TED (Video)

TED Talk Subtitles and Transcript: The world is full of leadership programs, but the best way to learn how to lead might be right under your nose. In this clear, candid talk, Roselinde Torres describes 25 years observing truly great leaders at work, and shares the three simple but crucial questions would-be company chiefs need to ask to thrive in the future.

About This Newsletter

Hand curated articles, videos, podcasts, and other media on the future of work, talent, recruitment, and learning. If you find this useful, please share on Twitter. You can always reach me at kwheeler@futureoftalent.org.