Your strategic plan—it’s your North Star. Whether you are supporting the plan or driving it yourself, most likely you are honing it with sweat and tears over weeks, or even months. You have probably worked through what seems like terabytes of data about market shifts, supply chain, product quality, and customer buying trends. You’ve spent many hours, across weeks, sitting in meetings discussing it. But how do you know if your existing leaders can deliver on the plan? Do they have the capability and capacity to execute on time and on budget? Can your senior leaders inspire and drive the compelling vision around the strategy you are counting on to propel your company? What tells you that your middle managers have the skills to coach supervisors to the level of innovation your plan requires? How do you know the answers to these questions?
Most likely, you don’t. Wouldn’t it be great if you knew for certain which leaders are strategy-ready leaders and which ones aren’t? Leading organizations are using talent analytics to gain these types of insights. Julie Murphy, CHRO of engineering simulation software firm Ansys, told me, “Accurate and compelling talent analytics is like having a pair of x-ray goggles. This level of detail gives you clarity directly to the heart of the issue, whether it’s good news or not. You can face reality and adjust your course of action, which will increase your likelihood of success.”
Sounds appealing, no? Let’s take a look at how one global organization used talent analytics to deliver on a business-critical change initiative.
Case Example: Using talent analytics to implement a new technology system
A large global company struggled to meet its customers’ demands for speed and accuracy. The new strategy required a radically new digital order and delivery technology system for customers. However, the technology was a shock to the system for employees who had to relearn everything about their jobs. The essential component required to successfully implement the technology strategy was a team of high-quality leaders who could coach employees and drive the system implementation on schedule.
The company decided to collect behavioral leadership quality data from simulations instead of more convenient, but also lower-quality, data about leaders. By doing so, they learned that their current level of leadership quality would not meet the sales goals required by the strategic plan. Talent analytics showed that even improving leadership coaching by a modest amount would increase sales by over $118 million and significantly reduce costs on every metric in the strategic plan. Therefore, by modestly improving leadership quality, they were able to predict that their leaders would be able to deliver on the strategy.
Using talent analytics as an insurance plan for your business strategy
Using predictive talent analytics is like an insurance policy in that it gives you foresight into the likelihood of a strategic initiative’s success. Talent analytics identify where leaders lack the skills to deliver on the strategy before problems occur. The table below offers three examples of common strategic changes where leaders can make or break your strategy, and also shows how talent analytics can be used to improve your chances of success.
Common leadership challenges in a strategic plan and how talent analytics can help
|Common Leadership Challenges In A Strategic Plan||Examples of Data You Need||Insights Talent Analytics Provide|
Your plan requires leaders who are well-equipped to navigate ambiguity, but most of your senior leaders have grown up in the organization following clear standard operating procedures.
– Behavioral data on the ability to navigate ambiguity for several levels of senior leaders
– Dispositional data
– Multiple years of sales data (controlled for seasonality) and time to market for new products/services
– How large the skill gaps are for the senior leaders
– Where pockets of leaders exist that have skills to navigate ambiguity
– How leaders who can navigate change impact sales, time to market
Your retirement bubble is nearing, and your next-gen leaders lack the experience to continue executing the strategy.
– A leadership profile of competencies tied to your strategy
– Behavioral data on required competencies tied to a dashboard of what good looks like
Enables data-based decisions about which leaders:
– are ready now
– will be ready with some development effort
– are not ready but could play key roles in the strategy
Your strategy requires a reorganization from functional silos to regional business units, and you doubt your existing leaders’ abilities to perform in new multifunctional roles.
– A competency profile based on the business unit strategy
– Simulation data based on the new business unit profile
– Motivational fit/intent-to-stay engagement data, based on the business unit profile
– Dispositional data based on the requirements of the business unit role
Which leaders have the skills and are likely to perform at a high level in the new role
– A sorting of leaders who have the resilience to manage the stress of a business unit role
Three considerations when measuring leadership quality
The secret ingredient in all the examples above is the leadership quality metric or quotient. Murphy explains it this way:
“So much rests on the shoulders of our leaders…on a good day. Layer on evolving labor dynamics, the power of AI in the marketplace, and the weight of political and social unrest, and now the leaders’ job has become tougher than ever! Measuring leadership quality, with an eye toward tapping into strengths and filling gaps, is a business imperative.”
Clearly, a metric for leadership quality is a powerful resource for any business transformation initiative. For that metric to be useful, keep in mind three important points:
- Garbage in, garbage out: Ideally, you would use high-quality data to determine leadership quality (such as behavioral competency data from a simulation) rather than traditional data, such as performance ratings, which can be faulty and have limited use.
- One size does not fit all: Your company may have a standard competency model that has been used for many good purposes over the years. However, your strategy may require brand new behaviors that are not part of the existing competency model. Ask for competencies based on the new strategy to be sure you are looking for and measuring the right things.
- Not your father’s competency model: Not only do you need to measure the right things; you need to measure new behaviors. Competencies devised in the 1980s—like delegation, planning, and organizing—aren’t enough for today’s business climate.
Don’t risk your strategy on weak leadership—use talent analytics to engineer success
Your strategy is paramount to your success and your organization’s success. Is your leadership team capable of delivering it? Using talent analytics can identify gaps and provide foresight for success. Take a look at your strategy and ask yourself these strategy-saving questions:
- What definition do I have of the skills required to execute this?
- What evidence do I have that we have enough leaders in the right places to ensure it goes smoothly?
You and your board will be glad you did.