Remember the time when you went to university for a 4 year degree and came out specializing in an area? Those were the times you looked for jobs in the relevant area you specialized in and pursued a career in it. Those were also the times when companies were still aiming to grow linearly. However, times have changed. As an exponential leader you know that your talent pool needs to be much more than just specialists in ‘one’ area. In fact, it could very easily be a roadblock for them in their pursuit to be future exponential leaders.
Now, I’m not saying that universities and obtaining degrees are redundant, losing their importance or becoming insignificant. A degree is a great way to launch careers. It’s essential to help your talent get things done ‘today’. However, if your talent pool is aiming to be future exponential leaders they need to be prepared for the future, today. And that requires skills of the future. To be recognized as that talent who will one day be future exponential leaders you’ll need to size them up and measure them against parameters that identify them as extraordinary. You’ll need to measure their:
Length: how far-sighted their aspirations, desires, and hunger for success and growth is, and
Breadth: how wide their scope and abilities can be and the depth of their core values
Traits That Define The Length
One of the most fundamental hiring mistakes you can make is hiring for the present and not for the future. Sure, hiring for today is easier because you can see what the requirements and challenges of today are and because assessing candidates is relatively straightforward. However, that’s precisely what you shouldn’t be doing. Exponential growth isn’t straightforward nor is it simple. To achieve it, you need talent that can not only get the job done today, but also possess the capacity to grow with the company.
Let me put it this way, anyone can ‘get the job done’. Why? Because to get things done today requires minimal skills that are easily learnable. What you won’t find in every talent is the capacity to do what will be required of them in the future. That trait will be found in a few future exponential leaders.
So when you’re assessing new candidates or even your existing talent pool, ask yourself, “will they be resilient to changes and innovations of the future?”
Everything is evolving! How we work. How we learn. How we communicate. How we analyze and compute. Nothing has and will remain the same. So why should your talent pool’s skills remain stagnant? What you need to grow your organization exponentially is a group of individuals who you can safely say are future exponential leaders with resilience and adaptive capabilities.
Along with that, future exponential leaders possess vision that’ll define their length. Complacency is the death of innovation and careers. Your talent pool should comprise of individuals who have vision, ambition, aspiration and hunger to grow and a clear trajectory of how to get there. They need to be hungry for growth and challenges. They’re restless and constantly on the hunt for challenging and bigger roles and responsibilities. You, as their leader, need to harness this restlessness by aligning them to your organization’s purpose and engaging with them, otherwise you’ll have a tough time retaining them.
Traits That Define The Breadth
Textbook knowledge isn’t sufficient for future exponential leaders. True exponential leaders will maintain smooth operations of the current, while always having an eye on the future. Pushing paper, getting the job done and firefighting are all within a box that leads to career suicide. Your future exponential leaders have to be innovative and creative. Your organization cannot simply continue operating in the same manner year after year. Nor can it be satisfied with the same linear growth year after year. You need a group of future exponential leaders who can be the catalyst of innovation and creativity. A group of talented individuals who challenge the status quo and consciously disrupt the norm. They’re agitated, and push themselves and those around them to aim higher and achieve more.
However, just as vision that’s not aligned can go astray, so can disruptive energy. Hence, you need to ensure your future exponential leaders are aligned to the organization’s core values. This is where you and other leaders of the organization need to engage with future exponential leaders so they’re aware of what’s core, fundamentally essential and basic to the organization. Their attitude, behavior, personalities and mindset should reflect the organization’s values.
To really instill your organization’s core values you need to assess your recruitment process. Are you letting anyone in who’s not fundamentally aligned with your corporate values? While you can align future exponential leaders to your core values, you can’t alter their DNA. Hence, being selective when hiring is important to guarantee only those join the workforce who truly will be future exponential leaders.
Developing capacity and building a funnel of future exponential leaders is one of the greatest challenges of an exponential leader. Yet, it is one of the most rewarding for your organization. Being successful in developing a pipeline of future exponential leaders who possess the length and breadth can significantly enhance your organization’s chances of enjoying exponential growth.
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Author: Paul Keijzer