Bench Strength

Developing the Depth and Versatility of Your Organization's Leadership Talent

 Bench Strength

Author:Dr. Robert W. Barner
Pub Date: April 2006
Print Edition: $29.95
Print ISBN: 9780814408841
Page Count: 256
Format: Hardback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814429402

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How deep and strong is your organization’s leadership "bench"?

"The key to sustained competitive advantage in any industry is not size, image, or technology. It’s talent, particularly at the leadership level. Your organization’s future depends on its ability to identify, retain, and prepare a dependable “bench” -- its next generation of leaders -- continuously. Over the next several years, the “baby boomers” who have engineered some of America’s greatest business growth will be retiring in huge numbers, creating talent gaps and unprecedented competition to fill them.

How can your company stay ahead of the curve?

Bench Strength offers a step-by-step approach to building a powerful talent strategy that will ensure the perpetual availability of potential leaders. Author Robert Barner leads you through important decisions about talent focus, including:

The Make or Buy Decision: Should your talent strategy be focused primarily on developing leadership from within, or on acquiring “ready-made” leaders from other organizations?

The Capstone/Foundation Decision: Should you concentrate development efforts on a few high-potential individuals, or spread resources across a broader section of your overall leadership bench?

The Stream or Pool Decision: Should you identify successor candidates for specific leadership positions, or retain pools of potential leaders who may be qualified for any of a number of leadership positions as they become available?

The Trade-Up or Build-Out Decision: Should you build bench strength by progressively “trading up” from marginally performing managers to high performers, or quickly expand the leadership talent base by hiring a large group of potential managers simultaneously?

The Best-in-Industry or World Class Decision: Is your best talent strategy to focus on your own industry, or to look for cream-of-the-crop talent regardless of particular industry experience?

Each pair of strategic options includes clear examples and all-important “payoffs and pitfalls” that will help you make the right decision based on the organization’s unique needs. Bench Strength also gives you effective methods for continuously monitoring how your company’s talent measures up against that of external candidates, further informing your “make versus buy” and other talent decisions.

The book also reveals the Seven Principles of Talent Deployment, which will help align your strongest players with your most critical and challenging needs. And the author’s “war games” approach to pre-testing of talent strategies will put the organization in fine shape to address both in-house “what-if” issues and new developments in industry or market conditions.

Barner also advocates for the creation of a new position in your organization, that of Chief Talent Officer. A new and increasingly recognized strategy, the hiring of a talent executive is a significant step with lasting implications, so you’ll want to find out as much as you can about the potential talent officer. To that end, the author presents ten detailed questions to ask CTO candidates, the answers to which will illuminate their approach to evaluating talent, their ability to play a “point position” for the organization, their knowledge of your industry and the company’s place within it, and much more.

Leadership talent is one of the most critical needs of any organization. Bench Strength provides a comprehensive, practical approach and specific action steps for making smart talent decisions and putting together a deep and versatile team -- for today and for the future."

About the Author

"Robert Barner, Ph.D., is Vice President of Management Development for Belo Corp., a media company that encompasses newspapers, broadcast stations,

cable networks, and Internet services in major U.S. cities. He is also a professor within Southern Methodist University's Department of Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management. Dr. Barner has more than 20 years of experience in organizational and management development, and has worked on OD assignments throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia."

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