CHAPTER 6
T
ALENT
D
EVELOPMENT
D
ECISIONS
And so one skilled at employing the military
Takes them by the hand as if leading a single
person.
They cannot hold back.
—S
UN
T
ZU
,
T
HE
A
RT OF
W
AR
This chap ter introduces two key d ecisi ons related to leadership
talent develop ment. The Capston e/Fou ndati on Decision , whic h is
summarized in Figure 6-1, considers those or ganiz ation al condi-
tionsunderwhichitismoreeffectivetoeitherconcentrateordis-
perse your talent developm ent effor ts . The Stream/Pool Decision,
shown in F igure 6-2, provides two ver y differ ent approaches to the
challenge of identif ying and developin g can didat es for leade rship
succession and placement. Together, these two dec ision s prov ide a
useful framewo rk for growing a strong l eader ship b ench.
The Capstone/Foundation Decis ion
Let’s assume th at you’ve ma de the decis ion to pursue a Make Strat-
egy and build yo ur talent ba se largely t hroug h internal develo p-
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94 B
ENCH
S
TRENGTH
ment. Given thi s deci sion, you then nee d to decide whether to
achieve this de velop ment b y focu sing t he bul k your company’s
time and r esour ces on identified high-poten tial l eader s (Cap stone
Strategy), or w hethe r you a re bet ter off dispersing these resources
across the broa der ba se of your leaders hip be nch (F ounda tion
Strategy). The respective advantages and disadva ntage s associated
with the u se of e ach strategy are o utlin ed in F igure 6-1. Let’s c on-
sider each of these options and see what they y ield i n term s of pa y-
offs and pitfal ls.
The Foundation Strategy
You might wish to purs ue the Foundation S trat egy when you are
working w ithin a relative s mall company or division, one that has
no m ore than a fe w hundred managers. In t his case, it becomes
feasible to spread yo ur dev elopm ent ef forts acros s your leade rship
ranks, take the time to work close ly with your execu tive team to
assess each manager’s suitabili ty for promotion, and craft individ-
ual developmen t plan s for e ach ma nager .
An organi zation may a l so de cide to pursue thi s strategy when
it is attempting to employ it s leadersh ip dev elopm ent effor ts as
par t of a culture-cha nge process , by he lping to get managers
aligned a round a comm on set of val ues and corporate strat egy. The
idea here is to have se nior- level executives take the lead in gu iding
those efforts, and by so doing make stro ng sta temen ts about the
kinds of leader ship b ehavio rs th at they mode l and e ndorse.
Pay-Offs Associated with the Foundation Strategy
Going back to th e concept of symbolic me ssage s, in choosing the
Foundation Strategy you send a strong message that your organiza-
tion views its l eader s as having equal potential and wor t h. This
message is very congruent with corporate cultures such as that
found in S outhw est Airlines, which places a l ot of emphasis on
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Figure 6-1. The Capstone or Foundation Decision.
Capstone
Strategy
Foundation
Strategy
Capstone/
Foundation Decision
When to Use It:
Resources are limited.
No clear “line of sight”
to lower-level leaders.
You want to create a
competitive platform for
leadership talent.
Pay-Offs:
Leverages limited resources.
Supports strong deployment of your best
people.
Can counteract the constraining effects o
f
or
g
anizational
p
olitics.
Pitfalls:
Can foster “heir apparent” syndrome.
Requires a disciplined assessment
process.
May cause you to overlook solid
p
erformers.
When to Use It:
Resources are ample.
You know your talent.
Cultural indoctrination
is a key objective.
Pitfalls:
Dilutes the focus on your top performers
(retention risk).
Requires a large commitment of time &
resources.
May devolve into a “sheep dip” program.
Pay-Offs:
Supports a message of equal status.
Can provide additional exposure and
testing of the broad base.
Supports strong values/culture messages.
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