Yesterday's article discussed winning the war for leadership talent involved much more than frenzied recruiting tactics. Today, we look at how companies can groom leaders from talent within the company.

The supply of leadership talent is critical to any organisation’s prosperity and is, therefore, a central element of talent management. The increasing trend of growing leaders from within is based on the realisation that a popular alternative for acquiring talent — poaching key people from competitors — ultimately leads to frustration.

Outstanding leaders who can “ramp up” quickly are hard to find, increasingly expensive, and even when successfully recruited, tend to keep moving. So the best approach, usually, is to develop systems and processes to identify available leadership talent. 

Many studies have shown that an important factor for commitment and retention is the effectiveness of immediate management. Employees cite poor management as a key reason for leaving a company. 

Accordingly, there have been many books focused on manager effectiveness. One big seller was First, Break all the Rules, reporting on the Gallup Organization’s findings and recommendations for better people management.  

Integrated system

In the broadest possible terms, talent management is the strategic and tactical management of the flow of talent through an organisation.

Its purpose is to ensure that a supply of talent is available to align the right people with the right jobs at the right time based on strategic business objectives.

The term “talent management” is often used to denote e-recruitment and automated applicant tracking systems. This emphasis on staffing and recruiting is more appropriately called the talent acquisition phase of the talent management cycle, an important but preliminary step in the overall process.

The Talent Management Cycle includes proactive analysis and planning to assure long-term strategic development and deployment of critical leadership and other resources through systematic identification, assessment, planning, and developmental action. It is composed of several essential elements:

Talent acquisition: Proactively recruiting world-class, diverse leadership talent and providing support to accelerate their assimilation into their roles.

Talent development: Developing and executing learning and development programmes, processes and assessment tools to grow current and future leaders.

Performance management: The process of creating a work environment in which people can perform to the best of their abilities.

Succession planning: This is critical to develop a leadership pipeline or assuring near-term leadership continuity by thoughtful consideration of the availability, readiness, and development of internal talent (including high potentials) to assume critical “priority” leadership roles.

Organisational results: Achieving favourable and desired results is obviously the ultimate outcome expected out of any effective integrated talent management system.

However, it is a lagging indicator and business leaders will have to focus on the organisational climate, which has an impact on the other elements of the talent management cycle.

The flow of effective communication and the systems of recognition and reward are integral parts of the climate that influences the talent’s performance and in driving results with the right impact.

An engaged workforce is your competitive edge. Your organisation can create a new product and it is easily copied. Lower your prices and competitors will follow. Find a lucrative market and someone is there right after you, learning from your initial mistakes.

But replicating a high-quality, highly engaged workforce is nearly impossible. The ability to effectively hire, retain, deploy and engage talent — at all levels — is really the only true competitive advantage an organisation possesses.

Article by Prof Sattar Bawany, CEO of the Centre for Executive Education (CEE) and Strategic Advisor of IPMA. For more information, visit or e-mail