WHAT IS TOP TALENT AND HOW IS THAT IDENTIFIED?

As a part of our talent acquisition engagements, we ask our clients how they define “top talent” and how they would assess those traits in the interview process. Reflecting on the insightful comments we hear every day, we thought there would be great value in a new blog in which senior executives/thought leaders share their “Take on Talent.”

This is the twenty-eighth in a series of blogs/interviews with senior executives who are thought leaders in the areas of Talent Acquisition, Career Development and Leadership who will share their perspectives on this ever present question.

 

 

Peter Allen serves as SVP for Sales & Marketing for Benefitfocus, a leading SaaS solution provider to Employers and Health Insurers for the enrollment and administration of employee benefits.  Benefitfocus is the platform used by over 25 million Americans to engage with the benefits industry.

Leveraging the experiences derived from long career centered on “as a service” forms of contracting, Peter has built and led growth-focused organizations across several businesses.  Notably, Peter was EVP for Global Sales & Marketing for CSC (now DXC) when it was a $17B/year IT services business with a sales and marketing team of 3,000 professionals.  He also led the Global Data Management business for Iron Mountain, trusted by thousands of organizations to preserve and leverage digital assets.

An active learner, Peter was CEO of Data Dimensions, Managing Partner of TPI (now ISG), Managing Director for Alvarez & Marsal, and served on public and private company Boards of Directors.

 

Please share with us the top five characteristics (in priority order, first to fifth) of the most talented people you have encountered during your career, and your definition of each.

 

Attitude with Aptitude.  The best leaders and performers balance their attitudes (which is a matter of style) with their aptitudes (a matter of substance).  One, without the other, is an incomplete professional.  Regardless the role – from most junior to the senior-most executive – effectiveness in business relies on a worldview that comes through respectful discourse coupled with mastery of a domain.  The best mentors are those who can teach through command of a functional expertise, delivered through constructive attitudes and engagement.  Those who understand that attitudes are largely in the eye of the beholder tend to be the most balanced.

Empathetic Sense of Purpose.  The ability to ‘walk in the shoes of another’ as a mantra for dealing with colleagues and customers is one of those features that separate the highly successful from the contenders.  Many try to fake their way through empathy, only to be seen for their true mettle.  But, using genuine caring about the purpose and condition of another, coupled with a defined sense of one’s own purpose and values, is a recipe for high performance.  I hire people who care, and who also have internal drive for which they are proud.

High Listen-to-Talk Ratio.  Balancing the intake and outflow of knowledge, opinions, perspectives and direction is a precious skill.  Often, leaders tend to believe that they must answer every question or provide specific and precise direction. The most accomplished business people I have encountered are genuinely inquisitive.  They ask great questions, frequently. Yes, they provide cogent and compelling communications, but they do so using the context of input received readily.

Undaunted by Challenge.  Few businesses exist that aren’t faced with material challenges over time.  Some are internally generated problems and some are market-derived obstacles.  The most talented people aren’t dissuaded by these headwinds.  Rather, they recognize that the challenges form the frames for creating artful solutions.  In fact, many of the best colleagues I’ve encountered would seek out opportunities for material improvements if there were no obvious burning platform.  Challenges force decisions around change, and change moves the needle.  Agents of change are generally up to most challenges.

Pragmatic, with Data.  In the technology industry, big ideas abound.  Among the most valued and celebrated talents are those who participate in innovations with a high degree of practical vision supported by a fact base that yields organized decision making.  Neither through conservatism nor unbridled optimism, the critical talent knows how to consider a spectrum of options with a blend of instinct and abject data to earn consensus.  Pragmatism conveys confidence.

 

How do you communicate these characteristics to your HR and senior management team?

These characteristics are not just applicable to hiring decisions.  They also apply to organizational design and execution.  So, the role of an HR Business Partner as a trusted extension of a business leader to foster the application of these sorts of cultural and talent development principles is essential.  The HR function is typically multi-disciplinary, so having a nexus of culture and development that serves as the extension of the business leader is critical.  There are few better means of communicating these characteristics than through role models that exemplify the cultural and technical/functional blend.

As for senior leadership, there is no better way to communicate the importance and value of these characteristics than through the talent that is hired and deployed.  Any leader is best represented by the caliber of team s/he builds and sends onto the field of business.  Strong and relevant talent is easily recognized and readily celebrated.  It’s important to own the cultural sphere of one’s organization and ensure that it reflects the style and commitment of its leader.

 

How do you handle challenges to the existing culture by talent you have brought in?

Assimilation through diversity is an important leadership tenant.  By laying the groundwork for a diverse team … where different views and perspectives are actively encouraged … allows for hiring talent that is empowered to apply individual expertise to any function.  We need that, so we must create permission for it to exist.  Consistency and persistence in the guardrails that frame the expectations for collaborative participation is essential.  This is why my five characteristics acknowledge balance in expression.

Leaders, at every level, need to own the culture they create and foster.  They need to set the examples to be followed, and they need to be transparent around what behaviors are keys to professional success.  The most skilled talent that lacks the value-based traits framed here is a cancer to be removed with haste.  Conversely, strong values provide an uplift to everyone in the organization.  The essential ingredients are transparency, candor, feedback, and balance.

WHAT IS TOP TALENT AND HOW IS THAT IDENTIFIED?

As a part of our talent acquisition engagements, we ask our clients how they define “top talent” and how they would assess those traits in the interview process. Reflecting on the insightful comments we hear every day, we thought there would be great value in a new blog in which senior executives/thought leaders share their “Take on Talent.”

This is the twenty-seventh in a series of blogs/interviews with senior executives who are thought leaders in the areas of Talent Acquisition, Career Development and Leadership who will share their perspectives on this ever present question.

 

Becky Schmitt leads all aspects of people management and company culture at Cognizant, one of the world’s leading professional services companies that is transforming clients’ business, operating, and technology models for the digital era. She has more than 20 years of HR leadership experience, including previous roles as Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer at Sam’s Club, and various HR leadership roles at Accenture. Becky received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and serves as a Board Member at Large for the Girls Scouts of America.

 

Please share with us the top five characteristics (in priority order, first to fifth) of the most talented people you have encountered during your career, and your definition of each.

 

  1. Empathy: Leaders are conditioned to power through challenges. We build up a Teflon exterior that we believe protects us and helps us do our jobs better. But in today’s environment – especially amidst a pandemic, social unrest, and an increasingly digital and disconnected world – it is more important than ever for us to break down those walls and connect on a human level. Leaders are at their best when they are comfortable revealing their true selves, and encourage and support others in doing the same. It creates an environment where individuals feel more welcomed and valued, leading the whole team to operate more effectively. Continue reading

WHAT IS TOP TALENT AND HOW IS THAT IDENTIFIED?

As a part of our talent acquisition engagements, we ask our clients how they define “top talent” and how they would assess those traits in the interview process. Reflecting on the insightful comments we hear every day, we thought there would be great value in a new blog in which senior executives/thought leaders share their “Take on Talent.”

This is the twenty-sixth in a series of blogs/interviews with senior executives who are thought leaders in the areas of Talent Acquisition, Career Development and Leadership who will share their perspectives on this ever present question.

 

Esteban Herrera is the Senior Vice President and Head of B&PS Atos|Syntel North America. He is responsible for managing the $1+Billion Applications and Platforms business in North America. The organization is the fusion of Atos’ applications portfolio and the Syntel acquisition. He leads a rich portfolio of applications and platforms solutions through a variety of sales, marketing, delivery and operations functions to create secure, de-carbonized digital value for his North American clients. He is a member of the Atos North America Executive Committee. He also leads Atos|Syntel’s global Public Sector and Defense business unit.

 

 

Please share with us the top five characteristics (in priority order, first to fifth) of the most talented people you have encountered during your career, and your definition of each.

Empathy. I was taught that business isn’t about making friends, it’s about making money. As I have grown older and wiser, I’ve changed. Life is too short to spend it with jerks. Furthermore, unpleasant people weigh down the team. They tend to use fear and authority over understanding and analysis. I am happier when I work with pleasant people. I know that when I am happier, I deliver better results. This doesn’t mean rolling over anytime there is a disagreement. Differences of opinion are healthy and necessary. Empathetic people take those differences and make better decisions. They make the best leaders, because they know what makes each person tick. That knowledge helps maximize their contribution. They serve clients the best, because empaths understand why they behave how they do. They make the best colleagues, because collaboration is natural to them. Empaths are great with feedback, because they absorb the human context.

Continue reading

WHAT IS TOP TALENT AND HOW IS THAT IDENTIFIED?

 

As a part of our talent acquisition engagements, we ask our clients how they define “top talent” and how they would assess those traits in the interview process. Reflecting on the insightful comments we hear every day, we thought there would be great value in a new blog in which senior executives/thought leaders share their “Take on Talent.”

This is the twenty-fifth in a series of blogs/interviews with senior executives who are thought leaders in the areas of Talent Acquisition, Career Development and Leadership who will share their perspectives on this ever present question.

 

Mike Ettling is a CEO, Investor, builder of world-class teams, champion of diversity and continuous learner, and is passionate about people. From his first leadership role in the Boy Scouts, to exec positions in the tech industry, his career has revolved around elevating, engaging and enabling people.Mike joined Unit4 to get the market as excited in its unique approach to enterprise tech as he is. Unit4 is focused on building systems that change how people experience work. We’re building systems that change how people experience work, and the impact in the future will be huge. Outside of work Mike is a family man, a Liverpool supporter, and a proud South African.

 

Please share with us the top five characteristics (in priority order, first to fifth) of the most talented people you have encountered during your career, and your definition of each.

Purpose-led

I think a sense of purpose defines the most talented people. It’s like having the wind behind you instead of in front of you. The question leaders must ask themselves is: How do you create a sense of purpose in a way that’s meaningful for the individual and the team? First, you have to be clear on your sense of purpose. What is it you want to do in life? Think about those defining moments that made you who you are and show you what’s important. How does that translate to your business goals and leading people towards a collective intent?

Continue reading

WHAT IS TOP TALENT AND HOW IS THAT IDENTIFIED?

As a part of our talent acquisition engagements, we ask our clients how they define “top talent” and how they would assess those traits in the interview process. Reflecting on the insightful comments we hear every day, we thought there would be great value in a new blog in which senior executives/thought leaders share their “Take on Talent.”

This is the twenty-forth in a series of blogs/interviews with senior executives who are thought leaders in the areas of Talent Acquisition, Career Development and Leadership who will share their perspectives on this ever present question.

 

Asheesh Mehra, Co-founder and Group CEO, AntWorks

Asheesh Mehra is the co-founder and CEO of AntWorks, a global leader in AI and Robotics. He believes humane, responsible AI is the future, and is excited by its limitless applications to solve for issues that impact business, our lives and the planet we inhabit.

 

 

Please share with us the top five characteristics (in priority order, first to fifth) of the most talented people you have encountered during your career, and your definition of each.

 

Curiosity

For entrepreneurs, curiosity does not kill the cat. It’s one of the main characteristics I have personally drawn from in my decades long career and was a driving force in starting my own company. It’s that desire to keep learning, to look at new and undiscovered ways of doing things and always looking for a better way to solve problems. Continue reading