Leadership and team management are two sides of the same coin. A leader cannot lead without managing a team - as simple as that! To my mind, there is no better indicator of leadership than this all-important trait. My own experience of leading large, diverse teams over the years and wide reading on the topic have led me to crystallize my learning into six important principles of managing successful teams.

When Nixon opened China to American business, U.S. manufacturing was still a viable source of employment for a large swath of the middle class. When robots began replacing workers on assembly lines, it was an early sign of myopia. When corporations (which, as late as the 1990s, offered mentoring programs for high school and college students and often provided internships as a first step toward employment) stopped nurturing a domestic workforce, U.S. industry made it clear that profitability was number one. There was no consistent number two.

Heidrick & Struggles is actively engaged in helping companies with attracting and retaining diverse workforces. This in turn leads to clients’ increased financial performance since results are overwhelmingly positive for companies with a diverse board, diverse executive team and diverse employee base.

Through our work and conversations with corporations, we have seen the following best practices used effectively as companies address the issue of hiring, developing and retaining a diverse workforce.

Start with Commitment at the Top

It's Politically Correct to Value Senior Talent in Word...Not Deed

For a while now, companies have lamented the loss of what’s called institutional knowledge – the know-how that walks out the door when a long-time employee retires. That person’s skills, understanding of products and customers, experience with getting things done, insights into regulatory compliance issues, or the integration of remote suppliers and employees are all considered valuable (and difficult to replace).

BlueSteps chats with Catherine R. Bell, co-founder of BluEra executive search, and author of the new book The Awakened Company.

catherine_bellIn your book you say “few today would argue that ‘business as usual’ is working well.” How can individual executives and employees become ambassadors for driving more awakened company practices?

This article portrays the essence and purpose of leadership: the conscious awareness (essence) required to create value (purpose).

When I began my first career, I found myself in what may have been the most fortunate situation I could have wished for – working in a place where, if you wanted and could do a job, you deserved to be given that job. Yet there was a catalyst.

The top executive enjoyed spotting talent. He actively looked for it. He felt that people who were guided into the things they did best – because they enjoyed doing them – were certain to exceed the company’s expectations...and their own.

Traditional Management Practice

As a manager, whenever you take on a new management role, either internally or externally, you apply the totality of your learned management practices from previous experiences. The rational is simple, the totality of your learned management practices, developed over time, has formed the basis for your success, so you see no basis for change. With this kind of thinking, there are often many management practices being ignored that may be able to improve your current practices even further. Discovering these missing practices will establish management relevance.

Businesses are crying out for great leaders causing organisations to commit significant resources to leadership development. While much is said about the effectiveness of leadership development, the question is how effective is leadership development when it does not start as a practice early in a person’s career? 

Today’s challenging business times require extraordinary leadership, and increasingly companies across the globe are heavily invested in finding and empowering leaders. They compete for the best people outside of the organisation and also realise that their strength lies in a well-developed talent pool. Yet, they still fall behind in truly building the leadership capacity they need for the future.

Does your company want a 25-50 percent or higher increase in performance? Research statistically shows that these improvements can come from talent solutions.

Let’s look at some of the research results for companies with diverse workforces: