Jocelyn Bérard, M.Ps. MBA is the Vice President of International Leadership and Business Solutions (Vice-président Leadership et Solutions d’Affaires — Internationale) at Global Knowledge Canada
The foundation of virtually every human resources management system is the competency profile for each position across the breadth of the organization. This profile, also known as a success profile or a leadership competency profile, must be specific to the position and strongly based on the corporation’s business reality. In their article Building a Leadership Brand published in July 2007 in the Harvard Business Review, Ulrich and Smallwood discuss why it’s necessary to clarify the perception of corporate clients when developing a leadership profile. Apple, for example, owes its reputation to its design and innovation capacity, but its leaders are recognized for their ability to create new products and exceed industry norms. Wal-Mart may be renowned for its low, low prices, but its leaders are known for managing costs effectively.
It’s important to take time to develop the leadership profile. Watch out for a generic leadership competency profile that’s quickly identified and quickly implemented but without any real impact. A “vanilla” approach won’t reflect the organization’s business reality and can easily be overlooked. It’s also necessary to clearly determine the expectations of major internal and external stakeholders and to consider the business drivers that affect each position or department in order to create effective profiles that can impact all HR applications, such as selection and development.
Vince Molinaro, one of the co-authors of the book Leadership Solutions, explains the necessity of factoring in the current business environment and strategy underlying the leadership profile. But it’s is necessary to go beyond the current situation; a new profile should be determined through conversations with corporate executives about anticipated changes in the business environment and strategy. These changes go beyond the shop floor and executive suites. The impact of changes in political leadership and the global economy must be taken into consideration when developing a company’s strategy. HR departments must also be responsible for factoring in an aging Boomer population by enabling knowledge transfer from senior leaders, the new faces of semi-retirement. Consider also the Gen Y population, tomorrow’s corporate leaders, who rely on emerging technologies for communication and learning that are unknown and slightly foreign to their current Boomer bosses. Thus, internal and external business realities, current and future, will be the ingredients that make it possible to establish a leadership profile adapted to today’s and tomorrow’s corporate reality.