EDITORIAL Desperately Seeking Superstars

That rather ephemeral gap between good leader and ‘really’ good leader is one that number of organisations struggle to close – in small and large companies, in New Zealand and around the world. It’s the same in almost any sphere of endeavour – superstars are inevitably in short supply. So New Zealand isn’t alone in lamenting the lack of CEO talent highlighted in this month’s cover story (page 24). Just as we worry about losing our talent across the Tasman, Australia worries that its talent is prey to being poached by bigger companies in bigger countries that can offer better salary packets.

Migratory drift isn’t the only reason for reduced supply of top-notch CEOs, however. As Management’s regular contributor Mark Story points out, there’s tendency for outstanding Kiwi CEOs to “jump off the corporate train” much earlier than their American or European counterparts. Earlier accession to top company slots is partly to blame – but the increased demands and expectations tagged to the CEO role have also helped shrink their viable shelf-life. We now have growing pool of CEO talent that is opting for less stress and more lifestyle. It’s sad reality that such choice could even be comment on the level of their emotional intelligence. Sometimes, the money just ain’t worth it!

In that context, it’s interesting to explore why “Euro guru” Sumantra Ghoshnal believes traditional management philosophy is bankrupt (page 46). The problem, he says, is that it is based around managing and maximising the returns on ‘financial’ capital – because that has been regarded as the scarce resource. But these days, there’s plenty of dosh sloshing around and it’s ‘human’ capital that’s become the scarce and valued resource. It may not yet be too evident, but this shift, he says, will turn the traditional relationship between company and employees on its head. Instead of the latter serving the former, it will be the company that has to ensure it meets the needs of its employees. Roll on, I say.

It sounds not unlike the approach Christchurch City Council takes toward managing and investing in its infrastructure (page 38). The notion is that it not only has to better meet the needs of today’s residents – but their children’s children. People-centred, future-oriented, financial capital in service to human capital rather than vice versa – model, perhaps for Ghoshnal’s new management paradigm?

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