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The Talent Masters: Why Smart Leaders Put People Before Numbers [Kindle Edition]

Bill Conaty , Ram Charan
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $27.50
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

If talent is the leading indicator of whether a business is up or down, a success or a failure (and it is) . . . do you know how to accurately judge raw human talent? Understand a person's unique combination of traits? Develop that talent? Convert what supposedly are "soft" subjective judgments about people into objective criteria that are as specific, verifiable, and concrete as the contents of a financial statement?
     The talent masters do. They put people before numbers for the simple reason that it is talent that delivers the numbers. Success comes from those who are able to extract meaning from events and the forces affecting a business, and are able to look at the world and assess the risks to take and the risks to avoid.
     The Talent Masters itself stems from a unique combination of talent: During a forty-year career at General Electric, Bill Conaty worked closely with CEOs Jack Welch and Jeff Immelt to build that company's worldrenowned talent machine. Ram Charan is the legendary advisor to companies around the world. Together they use their unparalleled experience and insight to write the definitive book on talent—a breakthrough in how to take a business to the next level:

• Secrets of the masters. The specifics on how companies regarded as world-class—GE, P&G, Hindustan Unilever (and others)—base their stellar performance decade after decade on their systems for finding and nurturing leadership talent.
• Intimate and systemic. Why deep knowledge and intimacy with your talent and a systemic rhythm of reviews are the foundation for creating a steady, selfrenewing stream of leaders for all levels of an organization—from first-line supervisors to the CEO.
• The competency that lasts. Financial results, market share, brand, and legacy products all have a half-life that seems to grow shorter by the year. Talent is the only competency that endures.
• What to do Monday morning. The Talent Masters tool kit provides the specific guidelines for assessing and improving your company’s talent mastery capabilities.

Editorial Reviews Review

Guest Reviewer: Larry Bossidy on The Talent Masters

Larry Bossidy is the retired CEO and chairman of Honeywell International and the co-author of Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done and Confronting Reality.

During my years as CEO of Allied Signal and Honeywell, I spent a great deal of time on people issues. In fact, I often surprised CEOs at other companies when I personally called them to check references on a person I was considering for a key position. Quite often they would ask, “Why are you calling?” My answer was always quite simple: “The success of my business depends on talent more than anything else.”

Just about everyone believes that “people are our most important asset,” but my experience has been that they are not quite sure about how to translate that truism into action. Now, along come Bill Conaty and Ram Charan with the book on how to make that translation, on how to judge raw human talent, pinpoint a person’s unique combination of traits, and develop that talent so that leaders improve and don’t just mark time.

Anyone who thinks that making judgments about people is totally subjective will quickly change his or her mind after reading The Talent Masters. Conaty and Charan’s great accomplishment—using in-depth examples from companies that have been talent masters for decades, as well as those that are still “works-in-progress” —is demonstrating that making judgments about how to help people grow in their jobs can be specific, verifiable and right-on-the-button. Moreover, in what may prove to be their most important point, they show why it is absolutely necessary to have the courage to take the actions the data suggests. They have written the book about the art and science of talent. If you are looking for an edge in a brutally competitive marketplace then there is no better place to start than The Talent Masters.

From Publishers Weekly

Corporate guru Charan (The Game Changer) and Conaty, a 40-year HR leader at General Electric, reveal how successful companies stay on top by developing leaders at every level of operation. Heading the list is GE under the leadership of Jack Welch. Nicknamed "Neutron Jack" for his ruthless willingness to fire non-performers, Welch created a new culture at GE by transforming the criteria for executive performance so that management had to get to know their workers, which allowed them to choose future leaders to develop in a series of room-to-grow jobs. The authors offer suggestions for adopting Welch's methods for today's global environment, examining not only GE but also Novartis, Hindustan Unilever, and Proctor and Gamble to suggest that today's leaders need to manage multiple brands in one country, shepherd a single brand across the globe, and spend time working abroad. A liberal use of jargon ("He searches for discontinuities in the external landscape") will distance general readers, but business types will find this useful.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 537 KB
  • Print Length: 338 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307460266
  • Publisher: Crown Business; 1 edition (November 9, 2010)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003EI2E8Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #405,792 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
84 of 89 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars But The Numbers ARE The Ultimate Measure January 6, 2011
By David H
I was attracted to "The Talent Masters: Why Smart Leaders Put People Before Numbers", because of the implied promise in its title that herein lies a confirmation that people really do matter in generating business performance. So much for titles. The content disappoints, as the material is a collection of oft-repeated stories and well-known anecdotes about several long gone CEOs. The focus on GE and Jack Welch is old news. By the way, has the GE model proved to be successful outside GE? Is it still effective at GE today?

Most shocking is a total absence of metrics and hard data. Not even an appendix or a notes section in the book. Why didn't the authors identify numbers that correlate talent initiatives to business performance? Isn't creating shareholder value what it's all about? The real reason Jack Welch became famous at GE is because he grew market cap from $12B in 1981 to $375B when he retired in 2001. Does that mean that Imelt and team have killed the GE talent machine since GE market cap has dropped to $197B today? Or is the mastery of talent an isolated discipline with no direct relationship to business performance? Perhaps business performance is more a function of environment, regulatory issues, competitive landscape, M&A or luck. At any rate, the authors don't weigh in on this one or GE post-Welch.

Also, how did the Goodyear CEO get classified as a talent master? He joined that company in late '00 when the stock was $18.01 / share and left in late '10 with a share price of $10.93 - a destruction of about $1.75B in shareholder value over a decade. Hardly a master of anything.
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Business has gotten a whole lot tougher in the past decade with globalization, regulation, geopolitics, and, most recently, the failure of the global financial system. Sustainability and survival of an organization depend more than ever on the recruitment, development, and retention of its human capital.

In my work, medical device start-ups, it has been well understood for years that there are three keys to success - management, management, and management. Leadership talent has been and will continue to be the differentiator in maximizing the commercial success of an unproven technology and the creation of value.

In "Talent Masters: Why Smart Leaders Put People Before Numbers," authors Ram Charan and Bill Connaty show how a few large and mostly mature companies - some with experience over many years and some newcomers - have "embedded in their culture the habits of observing talent, making judgments about it, and figuring out how to UNLEASH IT." Companies highlighted include General Electric, Proctor & Gamble, Hindustin, Goodyear, UniCredit, the Texas Pacific Group. They fully appreciate that talent is required for value creation and good numbers.

These companies "analyze talent, understand it, shape it, and build in through a combination of disciplined routines and processes, and something even rarer and harder to observe from outside: a collective expertise, honed with continuous improvement in recognizing and developing talent. These companies have disproved the myth that the judgment of human potential is a "soft" art."

Charan and Conaty have organized the book into three sections:

* First, an insider's look into GE's much admired talent management system and why it works.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The Talent Masters: Why Smart Leaders Put People Before Numbers by Bill Conaty and Ram Charan provides unprecedented insight to the people development programs of several legendary organizations including General Electric, Proctor & Gamble, and Novartis. Conaty and Charan illustrate in great detail the specific programs these organizations use to develop talent and plan for and execute on succession plans; including the behind-the-scenes consideration of organizational, cultural, and operational impacts such changes incur. They also share their experience-based insights on the critical personal traits and organizational supports needed for succeeding leaders to excel in their new positions.

I like The Talent Masters because of its in-depth, behind-the-scenes insights to the talent management practices of globally recognized `leadership factories.' Many case studies highlight the mechanics of these organizations' programs but Conaty and Charan present the intimate executive discussions and thought processes on personnel development and succession that only insiders possess. This book captures the nuance of thought that makes these processes work so well at creating some of the world's most sought after leaders.

The in-depth real-world business experience of leading companies presented in The Talent Masters makes this book on personnel development a StrategyDriven recommended read.

All the Best,
Nathan Ives
StrategyDriven Principal
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I agree with Bill Conaty and Ram Charan that Steve Jobs is the archetypical "talent master." Few others possess his combination of intelligence, temperament, energy, and determination (indeed tenacity) when the objective is to sustain generation of what Jobs characterizes as "insanely great ideas," then dominate markets with the products those ideas suggest.

However, all of us can be "more like Steve" if we are willing to become more astute in terms of (a) identifying a person's talent more precisely than can most other people by observing and listening; (b) strengthen our abilities through constant and intense practice; (c) make better judgments by mastering what Roger Martin characterizes as "integrative thinking" (i.e. "the predisposition and the capacity to hold two [or more] diametrically opposed ideas" in his head and then "without panicking or simply settling for one alternative or the other" to "produce a synthesis that is superior to either opposing idea"; and master, also, their people skills when involved in various social processes and interactions.

Whereas Steve Jobs is the archetypical "talent master," General Electric is the archetypical "talent master" organization. "When a valued leader does leave the fold - even one who may seem indispensable at the moment - the people in charge know what to do. They understand the business, know the candidates' strengths and development needs [not weaknesses], and are well prepared to fill the slot with the right match quickly - even in a matter of hours. The goal is clear: no pause, no time for people to commiserate, no laxity in decision making, and no opportunity for the competition to poach talent."

Conaty and Charan offer a case in point.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent inspiration!
Published 3 months ago by J. C. Espronceda
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
My very favorite book on people management. I given this book away to others many times now.
Published 4 months ago by Patrick T Kilby
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book on managing leadership pipeline, but...
I had purchased this book without reading any prior reviews. I bought it as I saw it displayed on a bookshelf of a bookshop, and the name of one of the authors as Ram Charan. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and fast read
Truly enjoyed The Talent Masters- insightful and useful look at human capital/talent management, with applicability to the government, non-profits, and academia as well as... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Kate Kidder
5.0 out of 5 stars Ram Charan's Best !
I rate this the best book by Ram Charan. And that's one formidable list of books !

I'd say the collection of Ram Charan's work should be made mandatory reading for the... Read more
Published on December 27, 2011 by Ramana V. Metlapalli
5.0 out of 5 stars Talent Roadmap
Talent Masters: Why Smart Leaders Put People Before Numbers by Bill Conaty and Ram Charan (Crown Business, 2010) reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D., February 2011. Read more
Published on February 27, 2011 by Steve Gladis
5.0 out of 5 stars Talent With No Buzzwords
The first sentence of this book sets the pace for perpetual gut checks on almost every other page: "If businesses managed their money as carelessly as they manage their people,... Read more
Published on February 19, 2011 by John W. Pearson
5.0 out of 5 stars A top pick for any business collection
THE TALENT MASTERS: WHY SMART LEADERS PUT PEOPLE BEFORE NUMBERS offers a key to managing talent as though it were a financial tool. Read more
Published on February 13, 2011 by Midwest Book Review
4.0 out of 5 stars Playing the Talent Game
Great read to help all of us stay focused on the most important aspect of a business, the people. Here words are translated into actionable items. Read more
Published on January 26, 2011 by Sylvia Lafair, Ph.D.
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and Practical
The Talent Masters provides an excellent insiders view into how the best companies manage talent. What's illuminating is just how ingrained and deliberate the principles and... Read more
Published on November 19, 2010 by Garrett Sheridan
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