Monday, January 16, 2012

Three Talent Debates: Tough Choice for the Future

"The voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new horizons, but in seeing with new eyes."
-Marcel Proust

The great recession we‘ve just been through, the over-complex business eco-system, the hyper-competitive global environment, and the accelerated economic changes make talent management more strategic imperative than ever at the digital era in the 21st century.

Character or skill, which one is more critical? Leaders, would you rather be liked or respected? What’s more important to a CIO, technical skill or business acumen? Hopefully, all these insightful and paradoxical debates at Linkedin forums with collective wisdom help spur the innovative thinking about future of talent management, groom more competent leaders with the great character,  the inter-disciplinary skills, the global cultural understanding and the long term vision.

A. Do you hire for character or skills?

"The achievement of excellence can only occur if the organization promotes a culture of creative dissatisfaction."           -Lawrence Miller

1. What is a character? Character means many things, which is inbuilt, the innate self, the individual's intelligence, sharpness, and dynamism, it’s the combination of values, attitude and the integrity. The character is human's blueprint; also like the seed, with the uniqueness & color theme, the nurturing environment may help strengthen it further. Character, like yeast, can life up team spirit and shape up organization's strength.

2. Character vs. Skill:
  • A character is from the heart/spirit. a skill from the mind/ego:
  • Character is a life-long journey, skill is stage-lasting performance
  • Character is more for future, skill is about today
  • Character only has the sky limit; skill may touch the ceiling soon
  • Character means more about quality; skills means more about quantity
  • Many will succeed moment on what they Know. (Knowledge)
    Some will succeed temporarily on what they Do. (Skill)
    Few will succeed permanently on what they are. (Character)
3. Hiring principle:
  • Hire for character, train for skill;
  •  Hire people for their characters and spirit, that's where motivation, engagement and passion come from and they'll be way more successful in the end. The heart (character) comes first, the mind (skills) comes second.
  • The strong characters may develop the habits which would determine whether they could optimally use their skills in our environment
 Being a good judge of character...that's where the real skill gets tested, the value gets rooted, and the performance gets achieved.

 B. Leaders- would you rather be liked or respected? Which is more important to you?                                              


  • Respect based on being trustworthy and authentic: The liking has to be qualified and be able to garner respect, otherwise, a leader who just likes to be liked can be detrimental and indicative of someone trying to compensate for leadership and technical deficiencies.

  • No matter respect or likability should be based on the value: For the leaders, you may need to surround yourself with people who can complement your skills, with independent thinking, critical thinking, creative thinking capabilities, who may challenge your status quo at some point, it could mean the higher level of respect since the  like-minded leadership team will execute with blind spot. Same as likability, the people's communication or interaction need to enhance the value such as time/energy management or mutual trust, no need to give up the principle for likability.

  • Doing the right thing at the given circumstances will earn a leader respect. When a leader consistently takes the right decisions and is perceived to be fair over the longer term, she or he is also liked by the majority. Earning respect comes first, liking eventually follows

Overall, as a leader, being respected with fair value, make the right decision for the organization and majority of people, also live fulfilled life with the energy and balance.

C: What's more important to a CIO, technical skill or business acumen?

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

The contemporary CIO perception well reflects the characteristics of senior leaders at 21st century:

1. The CIO is a hybrid and complex role: CIOs need to wear many possible hats. CIOs need to be the business strategist to achieve operation effectiveness and efficiency; CIOs need to be the technology visionary to embrace or “handshake” IT for potential revenue growth or new business model; CIOs need to be the customer champion to delight customer; CIOs need to be the talent maser to recognize the right talent for the right project.

2. CIOs need to be a successful communicator: They are able to show how IT changes will result in benefits to the organization, on one hand, CIOs need to communicate with executive peers in regard to strategy, IT vision, governance., etc via the business language to build customer relationship;  On the other hand, CIOs need to communicate with technical people without being out of touch and manage IT vendor relationship with comprehensive knowledge

3. CIOs truly need to be the whole brain thinker: CIOs need to be the inspiring leader first, as a chief innovation officer and chief influence officer, who need to make influence on the high-performance corporate culture; also as the chief integration officer to solve business problems such as business growth, cost optimization, talent management, governance; inspire innovation & analytics at  faster delivery with the right metrics.

 Business-savvy IT leaders and IT savvy business leaders working together will create synergy and energy to manage today’s digitized and global business more effectively.

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