The Mark of a True Leader: Helping Talent to Find Another Opportunity

Photo by istockphoto.com
Photo by istockphoto.com

Friday is picnic night.

My wife and I pick up food, bring it home, sit on the floor in our TV room and have a picnic. This is our little way to wind down from the week.

This week was no different, at least until we sat down, and that was because the news was on TV, which is normally a no-no. There’s just too much bad news.

I noticed the bottom of the screen that said 14 million plus out of work. My wife then mentioned that someone at her job was also let go today. The latest jobs numbers were just released, and they appear to be getting worse.

At that moment, I glanced at my phone and there was an email from a friend who “was” the chief marketing officer of a New York based company. The subject line read “Need your sage advice.”

She was now part of that unemployed statistic.

This changed the tone of our conversation for the night. We see figures that relate to unemployed and it is kind of like abstract art. It means (or resonates) to each of us in a different way.

Immunity from feelings

It seems that we have become immune to these type of announcements when so many people are unemployed and looking for work. Each day it has become a slow drip of news about the unemployed.

Unless, of course, it either hits us personally or is about someone we know. Then it becomes more poignant.

Organizations today, in a lot of ways, have also become immune. This is all done in the name of cutting cost. In a lot of cases companies had become bloated, but this constant drip of layoffs is having an effect on not only the laid off, but on the survivors as well.

At the other end of the spectrum, there have been many reports of organizations basically stating that “unemployed need not apply.”

My God, what have we become?

There are studies and all types of research about low employee engagement, workers looking to find new jobs, and so on. They all point to a workforce that is at its wits end.

Basically, they want out. This is a bad omen that will take years and years to work it out, if it ever does.

The mindsets of all the parties have changed, from the organization to current employees and the 14 million laid-off. The level of loyalty in the future will become a fleeting thing of the past. No one trusts anyone anymore!

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Whatever happened to the “greatest asset?”

There are so many bold statements on organization’s websites relating to their employees. “People are our greatest asset” has been used so many times that even the employee’s eyes glaze over when they hear it.

With the advent of social media, organizations must realize that they no longer own their brand. Social media is the new owner and that is not changing.

People are important to the success of any business. There must be a relationship between people and leaders based on mutual respect and benefit. Everyone on the organizational chart must be engaged, expectations must be clear, goals aligned from the mailroom to the boardroom.

We must all look in the mirror to see what we have become and whether we can live with what we see. What are we doing within our organizations to help out all of this talent that is just looking for another opportunity? We can no longer do business as usual.

Serving others

I did reply to the request from my friend for my “sage advice” (her words) and we will do coffee, lunch, dinner or drinks. I will make sure that I double my efforts to reply to every phone call, email or request that comes my way.

My mother’s favorite quote was “ There but for the Grace of God go I.”

I also remember the words of Martin Luther King, who said in one of his speeches:

If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. And every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize — that isn’t important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards — that’s not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school.

I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr. tried to give his life serving others.”

The words of a true leader.

How are you serving?

Ron Thomas is Managing Director, Strategy Focused Group DWC LLC, based in Dubai. He is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute covering the MENA/Asia Pacific region.

He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf and former CHRO based in Riyadh. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as Global Human Capital Strategist, Master Human Capital Strategist, and Strategic Workforce Planner.

He's been cited by CIPD as one of the top 5 HR Thinkers in the Middle East. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia

Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living.

Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly's Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy.

His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Workforce Management and numerous international HR magazines covering Africa, India and the Middle East.

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1 Comment on “The Mark of a True Leader: Helping Talent to Find Another Opportunity

  1. The mark of a true leader is also helping talent develop professionally while that talent still works for you.  This is not just limited to professional education but may also involve helping promote that talent into positions of increasing responsibility.  This may mean moving that talent out of the leader’s span of direct responsibility and into another leader’s span.  Leaders mitigate risks associated with such moves but cultivating other leaders who can move into positions that people move from.

    In doing this, leaders demonstrate, by actions, that they are committed to the professional growth of their people.  These actions are also an affirmation of their commitment to the success of the organization.

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