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What should the talent leaders of the future look like?

As more is expected of recruiting teams, talent leaders will have to evolve with the ever-changing world around them. We asked various leading experts in the world of TA a simple question: what should the talent leaders of the future look like?

Jasper Spanjaart on April 23, 2021 Average reading time: 3 min
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What should the talent leaders of the future look like?

As priorities shift, a simultaneous shift occurs for what we look for in talent leaders of the future. Whether it’s the common shout for a more transparent, diverse hiring strategy or simply the integration of the right data and metrics: the onus is on recruiting managers and talent leaders to not succumb to everything asked of them. But in order to understand that latter part — we must first delve into just that: what should talent leaders of the future act like, look like? What type of traits and qualities are a must

1. Be aware of your biases

Unconscious biases, and all of its subsequent challenges, pose a huge threat to talent leaders, their teams — and the organisations they work for. Also often described as implicit bias, it can be described as a sort of prejudice or unsupported judgments in favour or against a thing, a person or group — drawing an immediate comparison to another thing, person or group. In other words: it is usually a process based on completely unfair, yet subtle discriminations.

“Talent leaders need to be fully aware of their own biases and know how to mitigate them.”

“Talent leaders need to be fully aware of their own biases and know how to mitigate them”, says Roy Baladi, founder of Jobs for Humanity. “Even better, they need to be aware of how to design hiring processes and safe spaces that can transfer a certain type of culture throughout the organisation. The idea of a culture where people from all walks of life feel safe, experience a sense of comfort — and thus are able to perform in their jobs.”

Danny Stacy, recruitment evangelist at Indeed sees a role for future leaders to ensure that Diversity, Inclusion, Equity and Belonging (DEIB) are deeply rooted within all levels of decision-making. “The reason is quite singular”, he says. “It’s not only because it has proven to provide commercial results, nor is it because it leads to better talent applying and staying — it should be a primary task because it is simply the right thing to do.”

2. Know the leader you want to be

And while self-awareness kicks in when it comes many aspects of recruiting — Bas van de Haterd, a European TA consultant, sees it as the most important quality of any leader. “My father used to say: he knows his own limitations, has one less”, Van de Haterd says. “Know the type of leader you want to be. Do you want to be an inspiring figure? Or do you want to be the servant leader?”

“A leader should realise that he or she is a generalist. That means that your team should be smarter than you in some specific areas.”

Part of that is what Van de Haterd describes as a sense of generalism; not thinking or trying to know everything. “It’s impossible to know all about everything”, he says. “A leader should realise that he or she is a generalist. That means that your team should be smarter than you in some specific areas. It is your job to make sure that they work together and, well, play nice.”

3. Never stop learning

While many may agree that a successful, inclusive culture is the bedrock for company success — seldom have talent leaders been trained to do just that: build a culture. “It’s just not part of a standard recruitment education”, says Roy Baladi. For a lack of better phrasing: those who have worked their way up in the world of talent acquisition and recruiting, have never really been trained on how to lead — or question their own conceptions.

“Most skills that make a person successful in a job are not in the resume.”

At the risk of sounding like an enormous cliche: part of the learning process is knowing how to evaluate talent. Or better yet: how to identify skill and potential in people. That’s where Baladi sees an opportunity for talent leaders to evaluate beyond the resume. “Think of perseverance, compassion, patience and team spirit”, he says. “Most skills that make a person successful in a job are not in the resume.”

4. Find the right balance between tech and people

While a metric-driven approach can optimise any hiring strategy — a balance is the way to go, says Mathias Heese, CEO of software provider Softgarden. “On the one hand, technology should help you automate your tasks, reduce your workload, and spend less time doing administrative work”, he says. “Ultimately, your ATS should help you get the work done. On the other hand, as a talent leader, you should focus on the people. People are the heart of any business; it is important to remember this every day. “

“As a talent leader, you should focus on the people. People are the heart of any business.”

Geert-Jan Waasdorp, CEO of labour market data providers Intelligence Group, goes one step further. “Being a data-driven talent leader is not about the data”, he says. “It’ll always be about people. It’s about asking the right questions and setting the right ambitions. Don’t measure stuff for the sake of measuring. You always need to find a balance between the tech you use, the data you use, and the people that are at the heart of your business.”

“This isn’t about me driving a TA strategy, this is about how we all work together to hire top talent, every single person has a role to play.”

“People can tell when a company is not being genuine”, Ginger Maseda, Head of Global TA at Bullhorn, says. “And this can backfire quickly on you with attrition issues and this can turn into a troubled reputation. I’m also a believer in the power of people, I like to empower, activate and enable the entire workforce – this isn’t about me driving a TA strategy, this is about how we all work together to hire top talent, every single person has a role to play.”

5. Showcase empathy, trust and authenticity

“We must care about our workforce as leaders, in a personal way”, Julie Sowash, executive director for Disability Solutions, says. “Only then will employees transform into something more than a cog in the machine. They have to trust the people we bring into organisations to execute on the mission. We may not always achieve those aims in the same way, but trust we are all aligned on a common vision and mission.”

The best leaders can meet their teams where they are and coach them to tackle the next step in their professional and personal growth.”

To get all heads turned the same way — Sowash says talent leaders of the future should be able to engage teams where they are in terms of development and growth. “People learn and grow in every different ways”, she says. “So as leaders we should provide the environment and tools for success in not just a single format, but multiple formats. The best leaders can meet their teams where they are and coach them to tackle the next step in their professional and personal growth.”

“Leaders need to be inclusive – trained, open and curious to work with and mentor people from various backgrounds.”

That sentiment is echoed by DEI consultant Vessy Tasheva of Vessy.com. “Talent leaders of the future must know how to be playful at times or introduce play to processes”, she says. “Move away from silos and towards autonomy, put the infrastructure in place that allows you to hire people anywhere in the world. In that scenario, leaders need to be inclusive – trained, open and curious to work with and mentor people from various backgrounds.”

Authenticity should always be the driving factor for any company culture.”

“It’s not just for the employees, but also for the company itself”, Maseda adds. “The more honest and straightforward about who you are, what are your values, what is it actually like to work here, and where you are going – the better outcome you will have in the recruiting process. Authenticity should always be the driving factor for any company culture.”

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Jasper Spanjaart

Jasper Spanjaart

Editor-in-Chief and Writer at ToTalent.eu
Editor-in-Chief and writer for European Total Talent Acquisition platform ToTalent.eu.
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