How to identify and develop future leaders Premium

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Until the beginning of the 21st century, a company wanting to hire future leaders always sought experienced and skilled talent to fill the requirements of strategic posts. Although certainly valuable, these attributes are no longer enough. Claudio Fernández-Aráoz argues that, given the complexity of your environment, you should now focus on agile individuals with the potential to grow through experience and the vagaries that will cross their path. Business Digest shows you how.

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1. Identifying the leaders of tomorrow
Four qualities epitomize the potential of tomorrow’s leaders: curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. In addition, there are two further key characteristics too often underestimated: emotional intelligence and employability. The former is measured in terms of interpersonal skills: self control, aptitude for negotiation and conflict resolution, teamwork, networking, and so on. Employability is reflected in the ability to adapt to different companies and industries.

2. Developing talent in the making
In terms of career plans, pathways that are too linear are not good for talented individuals. Systematically promoting future leaders to the same type of position by simply extending the scope of their responsibilities does not enable them to develop fully. It is better to expose talented individuals to a wide variety of assignments of increasing complexity by regularly changing their duties, markets and contexts.

3. Promoting competition between individuals
Is it a gamble to make several talents work together in the same team? Not necessarily. It may be extremely stimulating for them, as the work environment is at least as important a factor as pay when it comes to motivation, and one’s peers are an integral part of that environment. Nevertheless, some precautions do need to be taken to mitigate warring egos. Fernández-Aráoz recommends forming teams made up of members with different types of training, cultures and nationalities and/or members with complimentary profiles and expertise.

Identifying future leaders at ANZ
Between 2008 and 2012, Australian bank ANZ rose from 12th to 4th position in the Asia-Pacific region. This rapid climb was enabled by a complete overhaul of the group’s leadership development processes. It involved creating a system to quickly and effectively recruit (both in-house and externally) and retain people with the potential to fill senior management positions successfully.


Based on It’s Not the How or the What but the Who: Succeed by Surrounding Yourself with the Best by Claudio Fernández-Aráoz (Harvard Business Review, June 2014), “Kill Your Performance Ratings” by David Rock, Josh Davis and Beth Jones (strategy+business, Fall 2014), and the interview with Jonathan Harvey, group general manager, executive development and resourcing at ANZ, Australia (September 2014).

Watch the video:

Why potential matters the most

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In this msnbc interview, Claudio Fernández-Aráoz discusses why people’s ability to adapt and grow has become more important than specific competencies.