Fourth Age Communiqué - Leadership for the rest of us

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

EI: The critical link

“The fight is won or lost far away from the witnesses, behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” - Muhammad Ali

In the midst of an economic upswing, never has the need for emotionally connecting with those who follow us to lead them to higher vistas been more important than in the hyper paced marketplace of the 21st century. As we witness a cautious growth cycle beginning to take hold, companies who once hired with the promise of lucrative stock options alone are finding it increasingly difficult to attract and retain top talent based on financial rewards alone.

Although there is an increasing shortage of technical talent, top free agents will no longer flock strictly to where the money “is.” As talented individuals find they can work anywhere, for anyone, for essentially the same (competitive) wage, the differentiating factor now is much more about climate, or, “what’s in for me?”

There is a certain economic vindication to the rise of free agents in business. To be sure, the economies of scale are dramatically lower than those of the average sports franchise. But for the discriminating professional, there remains sufficient opportunity to be deliberate about choosing that next career step.

There is a business case to be made not only for attracting and retaining top talent, but also for getting results once you have landed them. Knowing how to recruit, then place people in the right positions to excel and drive successful business returns, is all about knowing first what makes a person tick, then understanding how best to integrate their skills, talents and goals into the greater organizational value proposition.

Put another way, to effectively capture the heart and mind of the free agent, a leader must know what motivates them. It is Goleman’s notion that successful people are primarily empathic that makes his body of work so compelling: without a firm emotional foundation, people can neither grow nor be creative in their own right.


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