Monday, May 7, 2012


This week, I have spent considerable time reflecting on the common attributes of successful of companies in Wales for a new Wealth Creators supplement, published on May 16th in the Western Mail.

In examining 200 mid-sized companies, the research undertaken by Dr Niall MacKenzie and myself will demonstrate the importance of medium-sized businesses to the Welsh economy and, more importantly, their potential for growing the Welsh economy.

Whilst not wishing to fully pre-empt those findings, the importance of good leadership and developing talent shines through in those successful companies that are creating wealth and employment throughout Wales.

But the role of a leader in both the private and public sectors is constantly changing and its significance in identifying talent is becoming increasingly debated. To help deal with such issues, it is timely that the University of Wales Global Academy recently announced a new initiative this week that will help to tackle the critical issue of how to develop new leaders.

Tomorrow’s Leadership, a residential conference taking place in the beautiful surroundings of the Brecon Beacons National Park between the 20th and 22nd of June, has brought together a wide range of speakers and participants to debate and analyse a new model of leadership for the 21st century. The conference is intriguing for a number of reasons.

Firstly it will utilise an “Open Space” methodology where the experiential and collaborative learning of all delegates is as important as the knowledge imparted by the keynote speakers. The conference will also apply leadership models from other cultures given that diversity is a huge driver for innovation and change in businesses. In addition, all delegates will receive a personal confidential leadership profile report allowing them to review their journey to being the best possible leader they can be.

Yet it is the conference’s focus on the concept of the Triple Context - the importance of keeping in balance the economy, the natural environment and the social and political system - which offers the greatest benefits to the Welsh businesses. At the heart of the Triple Context are the findings of an influential report “Tomorrows Global Talent: How will leading global companies create value through people?” which surveyed of fifty global corporations and argues that the next big step change in the success of companies requires a profoundly new approach to leadership and engaging with talent.

As businesses focus more and more upon creating better products and services through new skills and innovation, then the role of people with a business has never been so important. The report states that tomorrow’s company must operate within a new business market where value creation depends on environmental and social issues as much as economic benefits.

Simply put, businesses will have to increasingly think about their own sustainability and the communities and ecosystems they operate within, To achieve this, companies should therefore refocus on talent development. This not only means the obvious high-flyers and rising-stars but all of their employees as well as other stakeholders in the business.

Increasingly, those who study organisations have concluded that talent is not something that only a rare few people have within a business but is instead a diverse and multifaceted capability that everyone has. Therefore, the biggest task ahead for business leaders is to find that talent and empower new leaders within their company, and smart companies look beyond their traditional key roles and staff but search for talent across all their corporate ecosystems, both internally and externally. In all these aspects of building a triple context business and developing talent, leadership is now absolutely vital.

Tomorrow’s leaders will recognise their role is changing as they place sustainability at the forefront of their strategy. In addition, those leading the organisation will move being the chief executive officer to the ‘Chief Talent Officer’ who devotes more time to understanding these issues as tomorrow’s companies will be successful at finding, engaging and leading every bit of individual and collective capability in their staff.

The future for those companies willing to embrace these concepts will be exciting and rewarding, and I strongly encourage all businesses in Wales to embrace this unique skills development opportunity which will help them become more competitive, more sustainable and more relevant to society.