Saturday, 11 June 2011

Social Business at the Economist’s Talent Management Summit


  On Thursday, I attended the Economist Group’s Talent Management Summit yesterday. You can see my blog posts from the sessions at Strategic HCM:

  • Setting the talent agenda
  • Future proofing the business (strategic workforce planning)
  • Leadership behaviours for the future
  • Recognising individuals: GE vs Aviva.


My first conversation with one of the delegates was with Tina from the US. We got talking about social media (I was just back from the Social Business Forum in Milan) and, emphasising the vital role of ‘social’, I remarked that though talent is important, I expected to find a bit of a vacuum around the potentially larger agenda of how talent is enabled to work together. How wrong I was! - I think I probably got more out of this conference from a social business perspective than I did from the day before (which emphasises why I think Enterprise 2.0 type conferences are still FAR too technology based).

Firstly, we had some good inputs from Rafael Ramirez at Said Business School at Oxford and Santiago Alvarez de Mon at IESE who talked about the need to understand the collective, rather than just the individual, future.

Two examples are:

- Barcelona’s football academy which selects your boys (Messi was there at 14) and teaches them how to play football, but more importantly, teaches them attitude, and develops a belief about playing as a team, not as individuals. Barca has a higher proportion of home grown talent than any other football club and a different culture, or attitude to work (also see this post on socialism in football).

- El Sistema – a system of orchestras in the poor parts of Venezuela which teaches kids to play instruments and which has found that children learn better when they play together than when they try to learn individually.


In business terms, leadership as a transformation of society – so you need to be in touch with society. Or if business is about relationships, then leadership is the quality of that relationship.

But there’s no relationship without the art of engaging people in courageous conversations, so we need to locate the point, in the organogram and in time, where courageous conversations are going to happen.

Leadership is not power. It’s trust, patience, respect, concern for the other, raising intriguing questions, and empathy: forgetting about myself and being in touch with you. But it’s impossible to be in touch with someone else if you are not in touch with yourself.

And its outcomes are trust, engagement, energy, inspiration…

Speakers provided some good business examples of collective futuring too. Eg Deborah Baker, Director for People at BSkyB (pictured) noted that leadership has become increasingly collaborative and team focused, as organisation structures have shifted to become less hierarchical, flatter, matrixed etc.

It’s about empowering others, and developing others. Reinforcing Santiago’s (or was it Rafael’s – sorry) point, Deborah noted that leaders can’t develop others unless they’re developing themselves. They need an understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses to get the best out of others.


I love these points about there needing to be a focus on the individual before there can be one on each other.  As I’ve posted before, organisations need to be human before they can be social.  See this case study as an example.


More coming up from Phil Smith, CEO, Cisco UK & Ireland and Susan Peters, CLO at GE.



Technorati Tags: Rafael Ramirez,Said,Santiago Alvarez de Mon,IESE,Barcelona,football academy,El Sistema,Deborah Baker,BSkyB,social,leadership


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