Leadership & Talent Development

As the global economy slowly picks up, Leadership and Talent Development has emerged as an increasingly pressing people issue. We think it involves two key activities: Defining the numbers of people with specific talents and behaviours required by the business to achieve strategic business goals, and taking actions which engage and develop people to acquire, enhance and apply these talents so they can contribute in the best possible way to the business.

When thinking about leadership and talent management two important questions for many organisations are:

  1. What is the optimum % split of development spend in your company between enhancing all employees’ talents and enhancing the talents of those few people who have been identified to have exceptional potential?
  2. Once you have defined the development needs for groups in your organisation how do you choose between the incredible range of development methods and options available to obtain the right solution for your business?

(Talent Development options include individual coaching and mentoring, psychometrics, assessment and development centres, skills audits, performance management, career review mechanisms, hi-flier development, leadership development programs, 360 degree feedback, formalising career paths etc.)

We have experience of implementing all of the above. With so many advanced development methods available, one of the big surprises for us is how the simple activity of defining jobs is undervalued and almost forgotten. Defining jobs succinctly and clearly is a critical foundation for effective talent management.   Once we understand which work activities are required to achieve business goals, we can then prioritise the talents and skills required, and in turn focus on the development methods that add most business value.

Two of our recent talent and leadership development assignments are described below:

Identifying senior leaders


Identifying senior leaders 2014 – on going

A global search firm has an ongoing requirement to identify leaders to perform a range of different C Suite roles: Chief Executive, Finance Director, Chief Information Officer, Business Development Director, etc. Visit their website.

Our work involves detailed assessment of shortlisted search candidates. To do this we work closely with the firm to clarify job and culture requirements, and translate these into a precise set of behaviours which we then use as criteria to assess individual candidates. On occasions we have scoped completely new roles so that performance expectations between the company and the successful candidate are fully aligned right from the start. We have also been involved in major M & A projects to appoint the best people into the new organisation, which is critical for future business success.

As well as administering and interpreting the psychometric data we conduct interviews, and integrate the data to arrive at the most comprehensive and accurate final candidate evaluations. Client feedback is that our candidate assessments add considerable value to the search and selection process and the creation of effective new organisations. We are often called on to give coaching feedback to successful and unsuccessful candidates to support their development.

Defining behaviours for success and career paths


Defining behaviours for success and career paths 2012-2013

The UK division of a major international firm wanted to clarify the behaviours for success, and the stages in the critical career paths in their business. We carried out significant employee research, which enabled us to define the behaviours required in different professions and career paths in the organisation, at different organisation levels.   We used the outputs from the employee research to scope the accountabilities of roles at different levels in the organisation.

The results were approved by the senior team and have now been used to evaluate individuals in the performance management process, to select people for promotion and to better identify individuals to join the firm in specific roles.


One of our clients said about our Leadership and Talent Management;

“I have known Michael, his team and business for twenty years.  Fourteen years ago, when I first set up an executive search business, I turned to Michael to help internally with the structure and relationships.  We later commissioned Michael and Business Transformation to create a culture fit protocol specifically for clients in the insurance industry.  We used this for many years allowing us to develop a deeper understanding of the culture challenges faced by candidates when clients hire externally from the industry or from other industries.  This gave us a unique position in the sector.

In more recent years, Michael and his team have worked in partnership with the Jacobson Group globally to develop a tailored approach to leadership roles.   In addition to using this tool when hiring externally, Michael also helped us identify existing talent within clients’ organisations when new roles become available and they want to assess their own resources.

Michael is excellent at talent diagnostics and at assessing talent taking away unconscious bias.”

Barbara Schonhofer | CEO, Schonhofer Search - 22 July 2015