Last week an article by Edward Lawler III titled Preventing the Loss of Key Talent was posted on Forbes. Ed Lawler and his Center for Effective Organizations has been recognized by Fortune and other publications as one of the leading management research organizations.  Business Week has named him one of the “top six gurus” in the field of management and Workforce magazine identified him as on one of 25 visionaries who have shaped today’s workforce over the past century.

Early in my career his 1990 book Strategic Pay was a valuable resource in my work designing compensation programs that linked individual effort to organization wide results.  Consequently his thinking on talent retention captured my interest.

His article highlights the importance for organizations to address talent risks and opportunities now, so that they are able to respond effectively as the global economy recovers. He cites a recent Lloyds survey indicating the executives believe a talent shortage is the 2nd risk factor facing their business today (up from 22nd place in the 2009 survey).  Articulating that the future belongs to organizations that can manage a flexible motivated work force, Lawler challenges organizations to establish policies and practices that foster agility and performance.

Almost a decade ago, leadership and talent expert Bob Gandossey wrote about the importance of speed and agility.  Writing in the January/February 2003 issue of the Journal of Business Strategy, Gandossey cited a survey of large global corporations that identified speed and agility as critical to their business plan.  He identified five basic characteristics of companies that are fast, agile, and effective:

1. Clear Purpose—”Fast companies have a defining sense of purpose, supported by just a few simple rules. They determine what is essential and ignore the rest;”

2. Engaging Climate—Fast organizations typically possess the characteristics of openness, candor, informality, and closure/follow-through;

3. Small Unit Accountability—Employees act decisively and autonomously, making smart moves;

4. Outside-In Focus—”Leaders of fast companies and agile organizations aren’t hiding out in the executive suite. They are in touch with their customers, listening to them, gaining a firsthand understanding of their environment and of what it will take to continually challenge and improve the organization;”

5. Collective Will—”They’re more animated. They listen more intently. They’re inspired. That’s because fast and agile organizations foster a collective will, a passion, a single-minded determination, an emotional energy, and a unified way of thinking.”

These characteristics provide a framework that organizations can use in designing an environment where speed and ability are possible, but how do you help individuals and teams expand their capacity for agility and their focus on performance?  We believe the MAITM Positive Core is a pathway to agility and performance.  When individuals, teams, and organizations are clear about their unique talents and values as well as their preferred ways of thinking and behaving and their most natural way of taking action they discover a rich reserve of capacities and resources.  By shining the light on areas of mastery, MAITM Positive Core illuminates a clear path toward greater agility.

Additionally, research shows a clear link between strengths focus and engagement.  As individuals, teams, and organizations gain clarity and begin to leverage their unique portfolio of strengths, engagement and performance follow.   Mastery emerges in a clear and actionable way.

In a global economy where knowledge is a key form of capital, MAITM Positive Core helps to unlock untapped or underutilized resources. Ralph Waldo Emerson is quoted in 1850 as saying “It is the last lesson of modern science, that the highest simplicity is produced not by few elements, but by the highest complexity.”  Mastery helps us perform in an environment of growing complexity.  It is through mastery that we are able to simplify.  The most profound solutions are often simple.

Dan Pink in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, through his own unique mastery, simplifies human motivation to three elements:

  1. Autonomy
  2. Mastery
  3. Purpose

So, we have a road map for both agility and performance.  Now, with MAITM Positive Core we also have a framework, language, and tools that provide the pathway.  As Ed Lawler so accurately points out, now is the time for organizations to adopt a new approach to talent management.  MAITM Positive Core provides a way to get started.

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