Workforces That Can Integrate Insights


The newly hired CEO of a growing company recently shared that one of her key challenges is finding leadership talent.  She is specifically looking for executives that have the skill to use data and analytics to lead them into new areas. In getting to know her executive team, she asked a senior leader how he used data to report productivity and business metrics, collaborate with colleagues, support customers and engage the right partners.  This executive showed the CEO a PowerPoint that was periodically used to communicate with the executive board; however, it lacked key analytics and insights.  Further requests for a presentation utilizing standard integrated data have been unsuccessful.  Delivering this type of reporting has been a real struggle for this executive.  The CEO is concerned and believes the lack of this capability will impact the organization’s ability to be agile and make decisions.

What are the specific skills and competencies needed to lead in a data-driven culture?

How can companies find a workforce with this talent?

A recent Gallop article stated that “Companies that seek to generate meaningful business insights need to shift….to a culture capable of integrating insights into day-to-day business process and decision-making.” The article’s main focus is on the importance of ascertaining the right data that will inform business decisions and how it will be analyzed. But it also alludes to the enormous challenge companies are facing finding this critical workforce.

A key challenge is identifying the right talent which can create and work effectively in this culture. It is worth noting that this culture is transparent at its core; a freeing aspect compared to many closed organizations.  And the benefits can be astounding for both individuals and the company.  Individuals are empowered by improved access to information and an open, collaborative, and continuous-learning environment.  Companies become more focused as decisions are fact-based and priorities are better defined.

Areas to consider when searching for this critical workforce include:

  • Powerful connections.  Utilizing a revised definition of talent, companies can find currently underutilized, unidentified, hidden and combined members of the workforce.
    • Underutilized. Re-evaluate an existing workforce in new ways to find employees ready and willing to move into roles that advance the company’s ability to realize its competitive advantage.
    • Unidentified.  In addition, defining talent opens up the opportunity for leadership to tap into the connections they make at professional organizations, a non-profit fundraiser or a soccer game.  Finding talent becomes easier when the definition is clear.
    • Hidden.  This will also enable connections to the highly-skilled but hidden workforce of the experienced worker, who may or may not be currently traditionally employed, but has developed a wealth of leadership abilities throughout their career.  Their error is in not creating and communicating a robust personal brand and promoting their own abilities.  It is, however, a bigger mistake for companies not to know how to better identify it.
    • Combined.  Another commonly hidden resource is teams.  Often the answer is not in selecting one right new resource but in selecting several.  There is power in combining people’s strengths.
  • The definition of talent.  How a company defines talent is critical to its success. Does your company still evaluate leadership candidates based on achievements in a non-managerial role or tenure? By expanding the definition beyond experience and skills to include how people think, feel, and behave companies can find leaders with the capabilities needed to build teams, quickly assess data, think holistically and tell a great story.
  •  Values.  Companies need to  embrace a open and collaborative culture.  The goal being to attract and retain talent that have the ability to be these new types of leaders.  This environment brings new continuous knowledge and expertise to the leadership team.  This is essential in enabling the company to move into new markets, create new business models and expand partnerships.  The possibilities are endless as the ability for the company to invigorate its employees, engage with its business ecosystem and deliver to its customer’s increases. On the flip side, those that struggle to create this culture may also struggle to survive.
  • Partners.  Engaging partners in new ways can also open up possibilities.  I was recently meeting with a staffing agency that provides skilled talent to companies and also helps job seekers find rewarding positions where they can thrive.  As we spoke about the workforce trends and challenges they and/or their clients are seeing, four reinforcing themes emerged:
    • New jobs are surfacing that companies need filled to remain competitive.
    • The talent required is forward-thinking and focused on skills that help evaluate, consolidate, and communicate complicated information so the company can adapt and lead in competitive environments.
    • Staffing company models are often based on the efficiency of compartmentalizing talent based on past experience.
    • There are many leadership and advisory roles that are needed but not yet defined.

As the workforce needs of companies continue to expand and become more urgent, staffing agencies will need to meet this need.  To do this, they will need to be proactive and expertly extract and communicate job seeker’s essential talents to companies.

A company’s ability to compete will be based on its ability, or inability, to create a culture that embraces new types of leaders.  This highly sought after talent will bring the knowledge and expertise needed to enable data-driven decisions and in turn move companies into new spaces. Where will you find that talent? Will that talent thrive in your company’s culture?  How will your partners help you? Creating competitive advantage is time sensitive.  Today is a good day to get started.