• Matthew Mugan

Securing Leadership Talent in 2020

When McKinsey proclaimed the war for talent had begun in 1997, the need for companies around the world to make their people a priority was highlighted. Since then, the impending trough of executive talent forecast for the 2010’s has presented a serious challenge for organisations focussed on succession planning their leadership teams. As we enter the new decade, we have explored 5 trends for securing high potential leadership talent affecting African businesses in 2020.



Diversity - It Isn't Going Away


The makeup of senior teams is changing, and the diversification of leadership continues to be an important topic. The performance benefits are well documented. McKinsey found that companies with an ethnically diverse leadership team perform 33% better than less diverse competitors and African companies with a female presence at board level had 20% higher operating profits than their competitors. With the impact of diverse talent in leadership roles beyond doubt, organisations must implement strategies aimed at diversifying their talent in 2020. This begins with forward planning, exploring the talent market and identifying high potential diverse talent.


Talent for Tomorrow – Planning for the Long Term


There was a time that organisations would find graduate and early career talent and develop those with high potential into leadership roles, but times are changing. Leadership talent is more agile in the digital age, opportunities are more common, and the access that high-potential individuals have is greater than it has ever been. In the advent of LinkedIn, digital networking allows talent to present themselves in the shop window of leadership. As a result, companies must respond by widening their understanding of future leadership talent.


Organisations in 2020 must cast their talent nets outside their own workforces, understanding the market for talent across their geographic region, sectors and functions. Dynamic mapping of the talent market is essential for future planning, and the continued impact of your leadership team. Companies with a deeper understanding of high-potential talent will gain the agility to hire as and when they need leaders who will make an immediate impact.


Cultural Fit – Where You Are & Where You Want To Be


In 2019 we discovered just how important your organisations culture is for both your bottom line, and your talent acquisition. According to the Careers in Africa Employer of Choice study, 50% of African professionals want to work for leaders because of their future vision, making cultural identity a key factor for talent acquisition. Put simply, companies cannot afford to bring in leadership talent who aren’t an exceptional cultural fit. Those tasked with finding current and future leadership talent must focus on company culture and finding leaders who will exemplify this as part of the employer brand. If your organisation is happy with your current employer brand, find leaders who personify this and will carry it forward. If your organisation needs an employer rebrand, you must identify where to find talent who will mould this future image, and plan to bring them into your company at the right time.


Leveraging Legacy – Opportunities for Impact


Over the past decade we have seen a continuing decline in the length of CEO tenure, as leaders look to make an instant impact at an organisation before moving to a new challenge. Legacy is key. This raises two interesting questions for those responsible for finding leadership talent. Firstly, how can your organisation offer opportunities for impact? To be attractive to talent, you need to demonstrate where potential leaders can create their legacy. Whether this is a financial, social or cultural impact, your employer brand must be clear on the company’s mission, and help leaders understand where they might fit into the company’s future. The second question is one of succession planning. With instant legacy the overall goal, organisations need to prepare for regular transitions in leadership teams. Identifying your next talent target in advance will be a key challenge for board members and hiring managers in 2020 and beyond.


Technology – Searching for Leaders in the Digital Age


In 2020 the use of recruitment technologies will continue to grow, especially in executive search. The global economy will see talent from further afield becoming interested in leadership roles across Africa, be it diaspora in Europe, America and China, or leaders within Africa in search of a new challenge. How your search partner connects you with this talent will be key to a strong employee experience, and make the difference between a successful hire, and a lost opportunity. Over the next decade we will see an increase in AI within the recruitment space, alongside digital interviews, assessments and networking. According to PwC, 81% of African CEOs have no plans to utilise AI in the next 3 years, putting African businesses way behind the global perspective, and leaving a big gap for forward thinking African leaders to get ahead of the curve. With the concept of remote working becoming increasingly common, there will come a time soon where the first time a new leader visits the HQ of their organisation is on their first day of work. Harnessing the power of technology to source, select and onboard leadership talent will be critical for success.


Are you facing a leadership talent challenge in 2020? Global Career Company have been working across Africa for over 18 years connecting businesses with the talent they need to move to the next level. You can discover more about the work of Global Career Company and our GCC Search initiative

by clicking here.

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