Monday, February 27, 2006

An Average Guy or Gal in Poughkeepsie

If Pete Weddle keeps writing about this stuff, I may have to just set up a separate space for commenting on his articles, as he has done it yet again in his Feb. 14 issue of his newsletter where the feature article was cleverly titled "An Average Guy or Gal in Poughkeepsie."

The piece caught my eye for a couple of reasons. First, Pete is a talented author, and secondly his insights and observations on the world of talent acquisition and retention are well worth the listen. I also noted that he had made reference to Tom Friedman's well-deserved best seller The World is Flat, and as soon as I saw that I knew it was something a wanted to read as well.

When I read about and hear about some of the things that continue to take place in companies in our country, I often go to sleep wondering if they are on the same planet as the rest of us. A lot of the time, it feels like a case of collective denial. Indeed, one would think that by now, we would understand that we are indeed competing in a true global market place and therefore be acting with the level of urgency that this reality suggests and which Friedman has so powerfully presented, not just in "Flat" but in his book "The Lexus and the Olive Tree" as well, not to mention the running commentary in his columns from time to time.

What I liked about Pete's take on all this was the pragmatism he suggests for the world in which we live, and how dealing with that reality should play out in someone who is looking to manage his/her own career. His message is very clear. If we, as a nation, want to maintain our leadership, and most especially economically, then we need to "out perform" the competition. How right he is.

It seems to me that one of the greatest strengths we have is our competitive spirit, and when it is your standard of living that you stand to lose, one would think that it shouldn't take too much more than understanding that to get your juices flowing, but when one sees what is going on at companies like GM, who seem to be the current poster child for just starting to "wake up" it gets a little scary.

Pete closed out his piece by saying "...the only way to endure in this new World of work is to win, and the only way to win is to be better than the other guy or gal wherever they may live." Winners, if they really want to be world beaters, usually need "coaches." In business we tend to call them supervisors, department heads, functional heads, division heads, SBU heads, SVPs, EVPs, COOs and CEOs and a lot in between. The common term and label is "leader."

At ExecuNet, we have done a survey of the recruiting community for the past 14 years, and one of the questions we have always asked is what are the key characteristics your clients ask you to find. The top answer, every single year has been "leadership.

All you have to be is be a casual observer of the world market place and read books like Friedman's or read pieces such as Pete has done to know that we'd better get on the stick.

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