1st Executive Blog


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At 1st Executive, we continually bridge the gap between capability and performance to help businesses realise competitive advantage. This second instalment of the “Mind The Performance Gap” series on Leadership Development focuses on Talent Management. 

As a reminder the top 10 Leadership Development issues identified by business leaders were:

  1. Personal Focus
  2. Talent Management
  3. Short-Term Strategy
  4. Long-Term Strategy
  5. Empowering Leadership
  6. Effective Communication
  7. Time Management
  8. Problem-Solving
  9. Implementation & Coaching
  10. Technology Early Adoption

The Mindshop Business Leader Survey results showed that ‘coaching and developing people’ has become the top skill needed by business leaders in 2018. In our view, this has long been the case. Building skills in Talent Management was highlighted throughout the survey with ‘Improving the quality of your team’ the number one way of freeing capacity, and ‘keeping good team members’ being the number one concern for business leaders. As employment rates continue to pick up in the economy, retention of quality talent is again a serious issue for leaders.

There are two critical challenges that emanate from these developing market conditions. Firstly, the competitive action for key talent is strong. Secondly, we know that when people leave an organisation, they invariably say that they are leaving their boss (or “leadership”) rather than the job or the company.

What this inevitably means is that both the onboarding plan and any retention strategies have failed.  We know for a fact that only about 12% of Australian companies have any form of formalised performance management system in place. We also know from many of our follow-up calls with newly placed executives inside the first three months that onboarding is frequently described as “rudimentary”.


This is a classic case of organisations saying “people are our most important asset” and then not treating them as such. It’s a little like parking your new BMW on the beach when the tide is coming in.

Onboard, Retain and Develop Talent.

Leadership Development

Nurturing growth through Talent Management

The solution is all in the organisation’s mindset. Businesses that onboard and integrate new staff, manage retention by setting expectations, giving and receiving feedback and recording the results (which is what performance management really is).When they then develop their people in ways that are aligned with the goals of the organisation they don’t have the same challenges with talent management that other businesses do. As Steven Covey suggests, they simply start with the end in in mind – learning, successful, performing and growing team members.


One of the big challenges for leadership development in teams is that strategy implementation almost inevitably means new projects, new things and new skills. We discovered in our research into Interim Management that Interim Management is a great way to address major projects, when an existing team does not have the required skill-set. This is even though it is underutilised in Australia compared to other developed economies.

Traditional Learning Management Systems help teams to pick up new skills in a reasonably cost effective way but results depend on the mindset of the team member, and of course access to training content, which can be somewhat vanilla.  Through our work with the Australian-owned global advisory network, Mindshop, we know that blended learning programs that are targeted on specific business initiatives provide the best of both worlds, as far as leadership development goes. Group workshops, online content, face-to-face and online coaching/mentoring, peer group support from a wider network and a regular update of intellectual property provide for teams to develop common problem-solving approaches, collaborate more effectively, and deliver better business outcomes. The capacity to cascade this learning and implementation is also greatly enhanced.

Talent Management

Collaboration as part of Leadership Development

In summary, managing talent is just part of managing the organisation. It needs to be undertaken seriously and have time invested in it. It starts with sourcing the talent, is reinforced with great onboarding and then retention is facilitated by focused, two-way performance management discussions and systems. Finally, collaboration is enhanced when learning is focused on strategy and its implementation.

“Develop talent for tomorrow, rather than just hire for yesterday.” – Pearl Zhu

Get in touch for a complete copy of the Mindshop Business Leaders Survey results – and grow yourself.  Check out our own leadership development philosophy by clicking here.

What can you do more effectively to attract and retain the right people in your team? 


  • Review the cultural elements of your recruitment briefs and establish additional interview guides around core competencies and values. Establish clarity about why talent would want to come to you.
  • Review your onboarding approach.
  • Map your direct reports using a ‘coaching matrix’ to develop strategies for how to guide their progress?
  • Look at the frequency and quality of your performance reviews and performance management system.
  • Consider how to align professional development with strategy implementation