Are You A Kingmaker … or a Poacher?

Are you a kingmaker, or a poacher who hoards your talent? Typically, the answer to this question is dependent on the organizational climate and whether or not cross-functional movement is supported by the organization. However, you can be the change agent.

I once had an executive tell me that the biggest compliment she received from her peers was when they wanted to take her people. These were her ‘A’ players, and she was open to them moving every time. She knew she had a ready bench and knew that she would develop them just as she developed this group. This was done in an organization that had some processes in place for supporting cross-functional talent moves, but they weren’t the norm.

This executive was a kingmaker. Her people rose through the ranks of the organization. She beamed during our conversation about one of her ‘star pupils’ who ultimately went on to become the CIO. He was one of many who rose through the ranks and her pride was evident. People in the organization wanted to work with her because they knew she would push them, challenge them and develop them.

Wondering if you are a kingmaker, here’s a quick guide to help decide for yourself:

1. You actively seek development opportunities for your people

2. You market your best people to other leaders

3. You encourage your people to look at other opportunities

4. You put your people in front of other senior leaders

5. You create the climate and then you get out of the way

Sure, not all leaders are kingmakers. Some are what I like to call the poacher-hoarder. The poacher is the executive who consistently takes talent from others (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) but they don’t return the favor of putting talent back into the supply chain. Instead, they hoard them. Thinking that they can’t survive without them, or that they would weaken their own internal support if they moved. Typically, this behavior is found in organizations where movement is limited and executives have a tenuous grip on their position. It’s usually a sign of insecurity and fear of the leader.

Don’t let your organization or your people get stuck in the middle by poacher-hoarders. This can wreak havoc on an organization’s culture and is especially true for your high potentials. If they see limited mobility and limited opportunity, they’re going to stop waiting and hoping for career success … and will seek and find it elsewhere.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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