The Big Idea: 21st-Century Talent Spotting

As companies recruit and promote executives in a fast-changing, talent-scarce world, the deciding factor should be potential—even more than skill and experience.

This is the radical proposition that has put Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, Senior Adviser at Egon Zehnder, on the cover of the June 2014 edition of the Harvard Business Review.

In his HBR article, Fernández-Aráoz notes that, until now, organizations have typically emphasized competencies in hiring and developing talent. Jobs have been decomposed into skills and filled by candidates who have them. But today business is too volatile and complex—and the market for top talent too tight—for that model to work any longer.

“Geopolitics, business, industries, and jobs are changing so rapidly that we can’t predict the competencies needed to succeed even a few years out,” he writes. “It is therefore imperative to identify and develop people with the highest potential.”

As Fernández-Aráoz defines it, potential includes the ability to adapt to ever-changing business environments and grow into challenging new roles. Companies must learn to assess current and prospective managers on five key indicators: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination.

Then, he says, they must help high-potential talent grow, through targeted retention and stretch assignments.

Read the full story: The Big Idea: 21st-Century Talent Spotting by Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, Harvard Business Review, June 2014.

Video: Watch the Harvard Business Review’s interview with Claudio Fernández-Aráoz on how to gauge potential when evaluating job candidates.

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