In a recent McKinsey Quarterly, an interesting example was highlighted. The CEO of a global company asked his 20-person top team to write down who they thought could fill in as leaders for 30 growth initiatives. As expected, the team nominated nearly identical people. Although the good news was that these people existed within the organization, it also revealed that the same small band of achievers were consistently chosen for getting the important jobs done. The CEO rightly saw that the company was relying too heavily on an inner circle and not opening up opportunities for others to show their stuff. Leadership has to constantly be on the lookout for filling the future talent gap.
I am afraid that most companies who tried this exercise would witness the same outcome. The same individuals are named to critical task forces and become overloaded quickly. Reaching out to those talented executives one or two levels below the inner circle is how we will grow our future or as HSBC says, “grow our own timber.”