Young, gifted and aiming for the top

Business leaders will be younger and their profile more diverse by 2020,
according to Ceridian Centrefile’s latest report on the future of work (page

It takes quite a stretch of the imagination to picture this scenario right
now, given the inadequacies of succession planning in many organisations.
Leadership opportunities that genuinely prepare the next generation are few and
far between, and although effective talent management is recognised as key, it
is still in its infancy.

There have been one or two notable exceptions where young people have been
promoted early to senior posts. One of the most courageous decisions was made
in the unlikely field of football, where David Sullivan – the infamous
publisher of Sports Newspapers and chairman of Birmingham City Football Club –
had the vision and nerve (although some might say the cheek) to appoint
23-year-old Karren Brady as managing director more than a decade ago.

She told her inspiring story to members of the Personnel Today HR Directors
Club last week and explained that at the time, the chauvinistic world of
football dismissed the move as crazy and reckless, given her lack of knowledge
about the game and the business.

But thick-skinned Brady should not have been under-estimated. Ambitious and
determined, she subsequently proved the critics wrong. Today, the ailing club
has been transformed into a successful, diverse plc, and one of the
competitively strongest teams in the Premier League.

More youthful role models such as Brady would go a long way in challenging
the status quo and bringing a new dynamism to business going forward.

Evolution, not revolution

Is it good old British scepticism that’s holding us back from the
outsourcing phenomenon? There may have been a couple of landmark outsourcing
deals here, but the trend has really exerted itself in the US, where it is now
widespread practice.

Forecasters are suggesting UK resistance will wane, with three-quarters of
organisations outsourcing their HR function, at the very least, within the next
16 years.

HR should view this prediction as an opportunity and not a disaster if it
saves costs, improves performance and assists the profession in its quest to be
less transactional and more strategic. All the advice suggests a slow, step-by-step
approach with outsourcing, so don’t avoid the debate – get stuck in and explore
the possibilities.

By Jane King, editor

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