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How to ensure Talent, Teams and Leadership deliver business results


It is a source of ongoing debate as to how the People function through its People Strategy demonstrates alignment and value to the business and its ability to be able to deliver measurable impact.

Just as the business understands the necessity of leveraging the operational relationships, such as sales with marketing, supply chain and purchasing and so on, so the people function needs to understand how integrating its relationships can lead to even greater value across the organisation rather than operating in silos.

Citing Accenture’s Report, ‘The Future targets or outcomes of HR work: Individuals, organisations and leadership’, it supports our view of the benefits of such integrated thinking. Talent, Team Design and Leadership are not mutually exclusive and with technology as an enabler, especially in the area of community and communication, talent is being discovered in the most unlikely of places as organisations are becoming flatter and more matrix in design.


To deliver any strategy, individuals need to be more productive, organisations need to have the right capabilities and leadership needs to be able to cope with organisational change.

In discussions, the business might ask of the People professionals:

  • Individual: ‘What talent do we need to make this strategy happen?’
  • Organisation: ‘What organisational capabilities do we need to make this strategy happen?’
  • Leadership: ‘What do our leaders need to be good at to make this strategy happen?’

Following definition, practices may be designed to deliver these outcomes. We highlight some of the modern thinking for each of the three targets of Development.


Individual Ability (Talent)

Accenture suggests there is a formula for talent that can help professionals and managers make talent more productive:

Talent = Competence * Commitment * Contribution

Competence: Individuals have the knowledge, skills and values required for today’s and tomorrow’s jobs. Competence definitions are less about the skills of an individual and more about how those skills match the requirements of the position. Identifying key positions and matching people to them is critical to workforce planning and performance management.

Competent employees who are not committed are smart, but they don’t work very hard so competence is discounted.

Commitment: an employee value proposition to ensure that employees who give value to their organisation will receive value back.

Employees may be competent and committed, but without real contribution through the work, their interest in what they are doing diminishes and productivity wanes.

Contribution: Next generation employees are increasingly driven to finding meaning and purpose in their lives and look to their organisation. Leaders help employees find a sense of contribution through the work that they do.

In this talent equation, the three terms are multiplicative, not additive. If any-one concept is missing, the other two will not replace it. Managed and integrated together, Leaders who can engage their general managers to identify and improve each of these three dimensions give the opportunity to increase individual ability and gain productivity.


Organisation Capability (Culture)

Talent is not enough. Great individuals who do not work well together as a team will not be successful:

  • In football, the winner of the Golden Boot (the highest scorer) is on the team that wins the World Cup only 20% of the time
  • In basketball, the player who scores the most points is on the team that wins the NBA finals only 15% of the time
  • In film, the winner of the Oscar for best actor or actress is in the film that wins the Oscar for best film only 15% of the time

Great individual talent may succeed 15 to 25% of the time, but teamwork matters most.

People professionals sitting in business discussions need to offer insights on organisational team design, team working, processes and culture as well as on individuals in order to deliver sustainable impact. Generally, we define an organisation by its roles, rules, and routines but they are known for their capabilities – what it is good at doing and how it delivers value.

Capabilities: the identity of the company and the key to implementing a business strategy such as the company brand to which customers can relate and the culture that shapes employee behaviour.

McKinsey says the challenge is “shifting their focus from individual competency to organisational capability”. They also report that capabilities will become more important than individual competencies. Nearly 60% of respondents to a recent McKinsey survey say that building organisational capabilities such as lean operations or project or talent management process is a top-three priority for their companies. Yet only a third of companies actually focus their training programs on building the capability that adds the most value to their companies’ business performance.

Some emerging capabilities for organisations to succeed in the future might include:

  • Risk management: Anticipating and managing risk to create sustainable change
  • Social responsibility: Organisations that have the ability to be socially & environmentally responsible will attract employees, customers and investors
  • Simplicity: Remaining simple in product design, customer interfacing and administrative systems to aid responsiveness
  • Connection: Using technology as an enabler to form connections among employees, between employees and customers and with partners will benefit global collaboration
  • Innovation: Within customer interfaces or channels, administrative processes and business models as well as products

For people professionals, the connection of organisation capabilities to individual abilities with alignment to business goals results in the whole organisation being more than the sum of the individual parts (individual talent) and delivering greater value.

In the future, professionals should begin to see the evolution of culture to identity. Apple’s culture (core identity) is around innovation. When the outside expectations become the basis for culture and competencies, people professionals become strategic positioners for their organisations.



Leadership Brand

Ultimately, leaders bring together both individuals and organisations to solve customer problems. Leaders refer to individuals who have unique abilities to guide the behaviour of others. Leadership refers to an organisation’s capacity to build future leaders. This matters more over time.

Five things to improve the quality of leadership:

  1. Build the business case for leadership

Organisations with leadership quality and depth will have the capacity to respond to changing business conditions, execute strategy, increase investor confidence and anticipate customer requirements.

  1. Define leadership effectiveness from the outside in

If we are truly customer focused, our external customer or brand perception will set more relevant and impactful definitions of internal leadership standards and behaviours. When leaders inside the company behave consistently with the expectations of customers (and other stakeholders) outside the company, the leadership will be more sustainable and effective.

  1. Assess leaders

Leadership 360s may be expanded to 720s. Customers, suppliers, communities, regulators, or other external stakeholders may be included for an external perspective. Assessment may also help determine high potential and future leaders by looking at the extent to which they have aspirations to lead, to focus on customers, the ability to meet future standards and the agility to learn and grow.

  1. Invest in leadership

The popular formula for learning is 70-20-10. Maybe this should shift for leadership to something like:

  • 50% of learning from job experience, including role models and
  • 30% of learning from immersive updated training in the business: pre-work, learning solutions, live relevant cases, problems to be solved, customers as faculty, and follow-up to ensure real
  • 20% of learning from life experience: access knowledge from participants’ life experiences, to broaden application and share knowledge
  1. Measure leadership

If Leadership is to enable an organisation to cope with the changes to meet the organisations goals of maintaining agility, improving competitiveness and increase productivity whilst enhancing the talent pipeline then, measurement and assessment of leaders should be quantified as such. A combination of qualitative and quantitative measures such as business KPls and performance competencies (assessed by 360/720 feedback) aligned to the organisation would be defined indicators of leadership success.



When sitting in business meetings, People professionals who offer insights on how individuals, teams and leadership can be aligned to deliver business results, deliver greater value.