Whether its cause is a global financial meltdown or a deadly pandemic, a crisis usually creates high unemployment and slows down the voluntary turnover of the workforce.

The talent paradox is that despite such circumstances, around 60 percent of your workforce is permanently ready to jump ship at the first opportunity. Talent retention is one of the biggest concerns of executives everywhere, regardless of the economic climate.

Talent retention is a matter of survival for organizations.  

Dealing with the talent paradox may seem like an exercise in futility, as it requires substantial investments in the development of employees, many of whom will end up taking their freshly acquired skills elsewhere.

Mature, intelligent leaders know, however, that such investments always carry a high ROI. Showing genuine concern for the development of talent can yield far-reaching dividends, even with employees who leave. People tend to retain fond memories of the organization that gifted them the skills they use to make a living. Some may return, others may turn into future clients or help attract other clients.

To run a successful talent retention and succession program, a leader needs to possess a competency called “talent leadership.” In my book “Intelligent Leadership,” I have positioned talent leadership as one of the outer-core competencies of intelligent leadership.

Exercising effective talent leadership means to attract the right talent, select and onboard it, engage and motivate it, and successfully retain it. Good talent leaders understand the basic truth that responsibility for superior talent management rests with them and not with the human resources department of their organization.

Four factors define the success or failure of your talent leadership efforts.

  • Deployment refers to your ability to find and onboard the right talent for your organization.
  • Diagnosis is about keeping an eye on the individual engagement levels of your employees. When engagement drops, employees will be soon on their way out.
  • Skills development is necessary to keep your talent engaged. You need to constantly develop the individual skills of your employees. Leadership development and coaching programs can help to a point. Beyond that, you need to focus on building meaningful relationships and team cohesion.
  • Feedback is another essential engagement-building tool. You need to reward individual and team performance by opening up new opportunities for your employees. Thinking in strictly material terms in this regard would be a mistake.

Talent leaders need to be aware that they need to add capability, alignment, and commitment to the four mentioned factors to elicit measurable improvements in individual and team performance.

Together, these variables contribute to the improvement of organizational performance, which is the ultimate goal of talent leadership and intelligent leadership alike.

Of course, none of the inner- and outer-core competencies of intelligent leadership make sense in isolation. They are parts of a whole, complementing one another. Thus, talent leadership is closely interlinked with team leadership and change leadership.

The key to talent retention is to hire quality personnel capable of performing the required work, engage and empower them, develop psychological ownership in them of the purpose and vision of the organization, and give them opportunities to climb the ranks, eventually emerging as leaders of the future.

High-potentials appreciate opportunities more than they do material rewards. 

Not all employees will want to participate in every stage of this process, but those who do, the high-potentials, are well worth the investment of time and resources. Even those who do not want to lead will benefit from the development of their leadership skills in their professional as well as personal lives.

Leadership development is, therefore, not a luxury. It is the key to successful talent retention and succession, which is a matter of existential importance for organizations.

To learn more about assessing and sharpening your leadership skills, check out my leadership coaching services


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