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Know these essentials for successful talent-focused leadership

Leaders and managers are uniquely positioned to affect talent. Here are some traits of leaders who are talent-focused.

5 min read


Know these essentials for successful talent-focused leadership


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Lead Change is a leadership media destination with a unique editorial focus on driving change within organizations, teams, and individuals. Lead Change, a division of Weaving Influence, publishes twice monthly with SmartBrief. Today’s post is by Bev Kaye.

Never before have companies relied so heavily on their human assets for their competitive advantage. You need your best people to stay, regardless of economic ups and downs. By stay, we mean that your talented people have not just checked in but are tuned in and turned on, as well. They are engaged in the business of the business.

Successful talent-focused leaders select great people who fit well with the organization’s culture, mission, and values. They also ensure that people they select possess the leadership attributes, competencies, skills and personal traits needed to succeed in the position. Selecting the “right” person for the job, one who fits with the organization and the position, increases the likelihood they will stay longer.

Here are three essentials for keeping your best people.

1. Support learning and growth

Once they have hired the right people, talent-focused managers look for ways to continuously grow and develop their people’s talent. They help them identify multiple career options and identify opportunities for moving laterally and vertically. They look for ways to enrich and enliven their work. They make every effort to increase the time people spend doing work they love. They also link their people to other feedback providers, coaches, mentors, colleagues and leaders up the ladder.

Talent-focused leaders lead by example, modeling the behaviors required of effective coaches and mentors. They encourage and nurture their people daily. They pass on their wisdom and expertise openly. They understand that individual capability and performance make for organization capability and success. People stay with them because they feel valued and important.

2. Inspire loyalty 

Research from many sources report that much of work-life satisfaction is determined by the relationship workers have with their bosses. It stands to reason then that the leader’s style impacts retention in a significant manner.

So, what are the components of style that breed loyalty?

  • Talent-focused leaders are feedback providers and truth-tellers. Their feedback messages address specific behavioral observations and are aimed at continuous learning and development. They deliver feedback in a clear and tactful manner. They encourage their people to give them feedback on their performance as leaders and work to improve their own performance.
  • Effective leaders value diversity. They create cultures of inclusion that value differences not just of gender or race but also of thought, experience, attitude and perspective. They understand that everyone can make a valuable contribution to the team and the organization. They become good listeners and know that, sometimes, people just need to talk things through to solve their problems and get the best answer.
  • These leaders encourage innovation. They understand the risks associated with being on the leading edge and willingly support their people. They step out of the box when necessary but always conduct business in an ethical and professional manner.
  • Good leaders know that what gets rewarded is what really gets done. They look for creative ways to recognize and reward when financial incentives aren’t possible. They provide recognition to both individuals and teams. They identify multiple options for recognizing performance because they know one size doesn’t fit all.

3. Build a positive work culture

Talent-focused leaders know they are responsible for creating positive work environments in their departments or functions. They know that innovation, creativity, productivity and quality are enhanced when people are enjoying themselves and are doing work they love.

Here are some of the ways talent-focused leaders create positive work cultures:

  • They collaborate and negotiate with their people to adjust the distribution of work to fit with people’s values, interests, and skills, and is satisfying and meaningful.
  • They focus on talent and understand that “knowledge is power,” and share information freely. Business information is shared regularly, and organizational and individual goals are aligned to ensure everyone’s efforts are directed strategically. 
  • They encourage sharing of personal information, family activities and events, problems and issues to the extent that people wish to do so. 
  • They encourage work-life balance and the use of programs such as flex time, job sharing and family leaves, and they do not view these programs as career limiting.
  • They are “space friendly.” They give people freedom to design their own work processes, establish their own schedules and design their own workspaces. 
  • They relax or eliminate dress codes. 
  • They try new work arrangements such as telecommuting, virtual offices and video conferencing. They allow these freedoms with knowledge that the organization’s goals must be met, but the methods by which they are met are negotiable. 

Leaders have more power and influence in the employee engagement and retention equation than anyone else. For your employees, you are the face of the organization. Engaged, highly productive employees help you, your team and your organization excel.


Dr. Beverly Kaye is recognized internationally as a professional dedicated to helping individuals, managers, and organizations understand the practical “how-to” principles of employee development, engagement, and retention. Her books and learning materials have stood the test of time; her bestselling book “Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em: Getting Good People to Stay,” is on its sixth edition.

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