Talent Management

Lead by example

As we explored in the first part and second part of this series, the ABLE Framework was created by the National Center for Middle Market (NCMM) to help companies better structure and coordinate their talent planning activities.

As a reminder, the framework has four parts:

Part 1: Align talent strategy with corporate strategy

Part 2: Build the processes you need—but don’t overbuild

Part 3: Lead by example

Part 4: Engage the organization

Now that we’ve explored Align and Build, let’s move on to Lead.


Leadership is critical to effective talent planning. As a CEO, you’ve got to walk the walk and get top management engaged in talent planning activities. Don’t pass this responsibility to human resources or department heads.

Note that many executives in line management don’t feel equipped to deal with HR issues. As CEO, you need to arm your senior leaders with the tools and training they need to be successful. Help them to get to know “high potentials” and other critical talent in your organization—and make sure you know those people, too.

It’s also important to have open and candid conversations with your executive team about talent in the organization (e.g., discuss the pros and cons of various high-potential employees). A few simple tools—like the one for evaluating bench strength in the NCMM/Vistage talent report—can help your team and you in your discussions.

The “lead” checklist

• Walk the walk—ensure that executive and line management actively engage in talent planning and performance reviews (don’t delegate to HR)
• Identify critical individuals and develop succession plans for those individuals
• Identify roles that must be filled by “A” players
• Help senior leaders get to know high-potentials and other critical talent
• Hold people at all levels accountable for performance
• Align incentives and bonuses to strategy
• Support and ensure open, candid discussion in talent review meetings

Next in this series
Engage the organization

Others in this series
Align talent strategy and corporate strategy
Build the processes you need—but don’t overbuild

Category: Talent Management

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About the Author: Thomas A. Stewart

Thomas A. Stewart is the Executive Director of the National Center for the Middle Market, the nation’s leading source of knowledge about middle market companies, located at The Ohio State Universit…

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