Kristin Clarke, CAE
Kristin Clarke, CAE, is president of Clarke Association Content and is the books columnist for Associations Now.
Three books look at how to win the war for talent, leveraging high-performance leadership, and staying resilient in times of grief.
The human resources role within organizations is undergoing disruptive change, shifting 180 degrees from a traditional internal focus to an external focus on systematic, interdepartmental collaboration for specific business value. So conclude Dave Ulrich, David Kryscynski, Wayne Brockbank, and Mike Ulrich in Victory Through Organization: Why the War for Talent Is Failing Your Company and What You Can Do About It.
Twenty-two global associations partnered with the authors to provide data from focus groups and 30,000 survey respondents, creating the most robust installment of the Human Resources Competency Study in its 30 years.
Nearly 60 of the latest 123 critical competencies carried over from the 2012 study. The team broke this new grouping into nine competency domains ranked in three categories according to their importance in driving organizational results. Three of the nine stand out as “core drivers”: Strategic Positioner, Credible Activist, and Paradox Navigator.
Most valuable to organizations are the competencies of the Credible Activist, an HR professional who builds “relationships of trust by having a proactive point of view.” Such traits include political savviness and ability to deliver.
Other major drivers are competencies of Strategic Positioners, who “position a business to win in its market,” and Paradox Navigators, who juggle “tensions inherent in making change happen.”
These professionals doubtless add value, but, as the research concludes, successful organizations will gain their edge by refocusing HR on creating a “unified whole” rather than “a sum of its parts.”
Required reading for both CEOs and HR leaders.
[McGraw-Hill Education; 304 pages; $35]
By Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
To Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, grief after the death of her husband, SurveyMonkey CEO Dave Goldberg, was exacerbated by her public position. Psychologist Adam Grant of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School emerged as a friend whose work on motivation and creating meaningful lives helped walk her through actions proven to “lessen the anguish” and accelerate bounce-back from difficult experiences.
Written with raw intimacy, Sandberg merges her personal journey with Grant’s objective research and their jointly collected stories of other people who have faced adversity and regained joy in life.
Managers will find particular insight in “Failing and Learning at Work,” a chapter about building resilient teams. “At the heart of resilience is asking for help,” the authors write.
A dream-team collaboration of hope and reassurance.
[Alfred A. Knopf; 240 pages; $25.95]
By Ram Charan with Geri Willigan
In this practical workbook for organizational rock stars and their challenged CEOs, leadership adviser Ram Charan examines the tactics of identifying, nurturing, and leveraging high-performance (“hipo”) leaders to create competitive value.
His guidance goes beyond the usual pipeline-development advice by clarifying differences between high-performing workers and hipo leaders. He advocates for a disciplined strategy and action plan to shorten the time before hipos begin making an impact.
As competitiveness increases, there’s more urgency behind talent-development training of supervisors and greater accountability of hipos for their own development. A self-assessment tool, checklists, and review of five essential skills of hipos—such as increasing return on time and multiplying others’ skills—provide tangible takeaways.
Useful for worker and supervisor alike.
[Wiley; 240 pages; $30]
[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "Got Talent?"]