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The Talent Masters: Why Smart Leaders Put People Before Numbers Hardcover – Deckle Edge, November 9, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; 1 edition (November 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307460266
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307460264
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #236,045 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.

Review

“Enduring principles and powerful practices combine in this must-read human resource manifesto for leaders at every level.”
—Jack Welch

“…The definitive guide to the art and science of talent development.”
—Andrea Jung, chairman and CEO of Avon Products

“…Practical, readable and very actionable …”
—A.G. Lafley, retired chairman and CEO of Procter & Gamble

"Knowing how to spot top talent and where exactly to place it is at the crux of this marvelous book, The Talent Masters. Its pages provide a vivid recounting of many true-to-life leadership dilemmas in contemporary organizations that reveal just how critical it is to make good, sound judgments when choosing from amongst the talent of an organization."
—Stephen R. Covey, author, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and The Leader in Me

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Customer Reviews

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This book will help younger and older managers and executives improve how they do it.
J. Eich
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.
Thomas M. Loarie
Myths and realities of talent management discuss the foundations of successful leadership, making this a top pick for any business collection.
Midwest Book Review

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

84 of 88 people found the following review helpful By David H on January 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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 By Nathan Ives on March 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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