GREAT PEOPLE MAKE GREAT COMPANIES–AND MORE CEOS ARE REALIZING THAT PUTTING STOCK IN TALENT ACQUISITION AND DEVELOPMENT IS JUST GOOD STRATEGY.
Twelve years ago, recruiting guru Kevin Wheeler wrote an article with the cheeky title, “Chief Talent Officer: What in the @#$^& Is That?” At that time most corporate executives had never heard of a chief talent officer, or they immediately associated the title “CTO” with the chief technology officer.
Today, most major corporations have a CTO or an executive who is recognized as playing that role, whatever it may be called. However, many companies have yet to fully tap the power of the CTO position. On the other hand, some CEOs have discovered that when they form a genuine strategic partnership with their CTO, great things are possible.
I set out to better understand the CEO-CTO relationship by interviewing CEOs and CTOs who lead their organizations through talent.
WHAT GREAT CEOS BRING TO THE PARTNERSHIP
1. GREAT CEOS KNOW PEOPLE ARE THE PRIORITY.
Most business leaders today accept as an infallible truth that an organization’s most important resource is its people. Being genuinely committed to that tenet forms the basis of a winning CEO-CTO relationship.
Mike George is president and CEO of QVC, the televised and online shopping network, with 17,000 employees worldwide. George described talent management as “a senior, strategic leadership function.”
“We know it is our people who drive our business forward,” George said.
Golf Inc. magazine has described Eric Affeldt, CEO of ClubCorp, as “the most powerful person in golf.” ClubCorp has 14,000 employees operating more than 150 clubs. Affeldt says his approach to leadership is all about people.
“All great leaders are very good at allocating resources. This is where people come in,” Affeldt said. “The number one most important resource allocation challenge that all leaders have is putting the right people in place and then helping them to be successful.”
Perhaps no industry puts a higher premium on good talent than professional sports. When Major League pitcher and Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan transitioned to the business side as principal owner and CEO of the Texas Rangers, he wanted to have the best people not only on the field but in the front office.
“You have to put the right people in the right seats,” said Rick George, the Rangers’ chief operating officer. “What I think we’ve been doing effectively here is we have people in the right seats. The one thing Nolan has done is really create a culture of family and togetherness, where everybody has a role.”
When Chief People Office Leslie Joyce joined Novelis, Inc., an aluminum manufacturer with 11,000 employees in 11 countries, in 2009, she was surprised and pleased by CEO Phil Martens’ commitment to talent development. She cited the example of a program for global high potentials. Her proposal was to run two dozen people through a three-week program that included travel each week to and from emerging markets and the company’s Atlanta headquarters.
Knowing her proposal was ambitious and expensive, Joyce expected Martens to reduce the time frame. Instead, Martens responded, “I think it should be longer,” and added a fourth week to the program. “For people in our space, at that time or any time, you seldom walk into a CEO’s office and he says, ‘Make the program longer,’” Joyce said.
Martens said he is committed to talent and talent development…