The ability to achieve your company’s growth objectives is dependent upon your leadership team's ability to execute consistently upon the required results within your desired timeframe.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s bestselling book, Outliers: The Story of Success, Gladwell discusses a concept called the 10,000 hour rule. The rule purports that it takes 10,000 hours to achieve true expertise or mastery in anything. It is important to point out that this 10,000 hours assumes the individual is starting with no knowledge or experience in their chosen field of expertise; they are starting from scratch.
Based on this study, I then decided to find out what it takes to achieve mastery as a highly effective leader, which I define as someone who can consistently achieve results from others in a positive manner.
The difference between Gladwell’s 10,000 hours and the person I am describing is that my hypothetical leader is NOT starting from scratch. For example, say an individual has earned a degree in finance and and an MBA from a top university. They then accumulated over 10 years of experience in various financial roles while simultaneously studying and passing the exam to earn their CPA. Due to their stellar performance as a financial expert, they were then promoted to the role of Director of Finance. If you add all this time up, they have well over the 10,000 hours required to achieve mastery – only the role you just hired them for requires different knowledge and skills! In addition to having an in-depth understanding of finance, the skills they now need to master in order for your company to achieve its growth goals include:
- How to assess their existing team to determine their strengths and weaknesses.
- How to hire other high performing financial experts.
- How to set clear expectations, delegate and manage to the desired results.
- How to communicate and motivate their people.
- How to develop their people to be the best they can be.
How long do you believe it will take this person to accumulate and master the knowledge and skills necessary to becoming an effective leader?
The answer depends on the following:
- Do you, your company and this person value these “soft skills” as much as they do the “hard skills” and realize the difference?
- What are you and your company doing to help this person? Are you providing formal training and coaching, or are you just hoping they will learn through osmosis?
- What initiatives is the individual taking? Are they reading a lot of books on leadership, participating in various workshops and training programs, as they invested in their financial education, or are they just hoping to acquire these skills through OJT?
- What external factors are influencing the desired results? For example, let’s say they became the Director of Finance for a mortgage company around 2005 when all you had to do was pretty much show up to be successful, in contrast to starting that same position in 2010, at the peak of the economic crash, when you had everything working against you.
Based on positive answers to the above four questions, along with the fact that this person is not starting from scratch, it will take this individual another 3 to 5 years to achieve mastery of these new leadership skills.
This means that if you have a 3-year plan to double your company, and this person has even two years left to achieve mastery, then you are actually on a 5-yearplan, which means you have two choices to make:
- Lower your expectations and compromise on your strategy to fit the existing talent capabilities of your people, which equals lost time and money or . . .
- Improve your talent capabilities, which includes assessing, finding and developing the talent required to achieve your growth objectives within your desired timeframe.
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