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Purpose-Driven Leadership, Accelerated Change & Why the Right Data Creates Talent Resilience

By Caitlin MacGregor | October 20, 2020
Purpose-Driven Leadership, Accelerated Change & Why the Right Data Creates Talent Resilience

In 2020, this quote from Korn Ferry could not be more fitting: “disruptive times make traditional leadership models redundant.” 2020 has fueled some complicated leadership challenges. How do we keep teams of employees cared for yet productive during COVID-19? 

How do we create real positive change with respect to DE&I and social justice? How do we know our strategic decisions will hold up under scrutiny, and build stakeholder trust?

While 2020 exposed leadership vulnerabilities for some, for those with a first-mover’s advantage, it signalled the opportunity to lean in to bold leadership and accelerate overdue change.

Purpose-driven leadership is bold leadership.

Traditional “command and control” leadership—wherein employees are "cost centers" and talent practices are designed to increase company profits—is losing relevance. In its place, leaders are prioritizing a purpose-driven approach.

According to a new report from KPMG, 81% of CEOs say managing environmental, social and governance factors will be critical to driving growth in the long term.[1] Why the shift? Focusing on purpose is not only “the right thing to do,” it makes great business sense. 86% of over-performing companies link everything they do to purpose.[2] In doing so, they honour their relationships with every stakeholder, including employees, customers, and shareholders.

Obviously, purpose-driven leadership is about more than aspirational rhetoric. It’s about bringing an authentic commitment to a purpose that supersedes mere profitability and growth. It’s about walking the walk by developing diverse and inclusive leadership at every level of the organization. It’s about embedding a sense of belonging, building trust through empathy, and showing up with uncompromising accountability.

Purpose-driven leaders build inclusive employee experiences by prioritizing the value of human potential at the center of every decision.

Purpose-driven leaders understand one very simple truth: sustainable success depends on thriving employees. Thriving employees feel a strong sense of belonging, they know their unique talents are understood by their leaders and peers, and they feel empowered to bring their full human potential to work every day.

Purpose-driven leaders know how to quantify that human potential and position that value at the center of talent decisions. Whatsmore, they have the capability to invest the potential of every single employee across dynamic roles, teams, and leadership opportunities.

Talent Resilience is the first-mover’s advantage.

2020 forced all of us to recognize the importance of adapting. To be sure, some organizations adapt better than others. While leaders that adapt using gut instinct may fare well momentarily, luck is not a consistent strategy. Leaders with data-driven adaptability have a strong first-mover’s advantage with consistently better outcomes - at Plum, we call it Talent Resilience.

Talent Resilience is an unbiased, data-driven approach that simultaneously accounts for the dynamic nature of both critical jobs and human potential. Talent Resilience empowers leaders to accurately align the talent of their workforce with changing business strategy at speed and scale. Assess your organizational Talent Resilience by answering 9 questions in a short quiz!

Why Talent Resilience works: Critical roles change. Human potential persists.

In less than a decade from now, “65% of children entering primary schools today will likely work in roles that don’t currently exist.”[3] In a dynamic job market, talent decision criteria based solely on hard skills and past experience can’t stay relevant. Gartner sums this up perfectly: “When tasks and responsibilities change quickly, as they do during business disruption, roles become less and less useful as a proxy for required skills.”

Traditional employee data based on hard skills, knowledge, and past experience not only has waning relevance it is inherently biased; tainted by the systemic barriers in our society that dictate access to education, access to internships, and opportunities to progress in a career.

Purpose-driven leaders don’t rely on rear view mirrors. They look ahead, making confident decisions about the future with data that is built for it.

One Consistent Metric. Countless Outcomes.

Talent Resilience relies on one consistent metric leaders can use to break talent decision silos - quantified human potential. Quantified human potential is a universal, unbiased talent metric, rooted in I/O psychology.

Measuring more than hard skills and knowledge, it reveals a person’s innate Talents, including innovation, persuasion, teamwork, adaptation, communication and so on. Sometimes referred to as ‘soft skills’, Talents represent how we are consistently hardwired as humans.

Hard skills and knowledge refer to a specific set of learned activities required for a job and they lose some relevance as roles evolve or disappear. Talents on the other hand, are recurring patterns of thought, feeling, and behaviour. While measuring Talents is more difficult, for HR, it’s a complete data upgrade. Measuring Talents breaks the dataset free from systemic bias embedded in traditional resumes, including education, internships and career opportunities.

Just as important, Talents are up to 4X more predictive of success than job-specific skills and knowledge. Why? Because they predict an individual’s behavioural competency for a role, rather than just their eligibility. That competency has nothing to do with race, gender, or age.

By prioritizing quantified human potential ahead of hard skills and experience alone, purpose-driven leaders root any number of talent decisions in one objective metric that is consistently accurate and relevant. Whether it’s a workforce re-org, succession planning, employee development, workforce planning or talent acquisition, using one consistent metric speeds decision agility and makes it much easier for leaders to align real-time talent and potential of their current workforce with their most critical roles. Whatsmore, leaders are free to approach decisions using a ‘screen-in’ mindset, investing their focus on who will be successful in critical roles faster (hint: quite often, it’s the overlooked talent!)

Quantified human potential not only reveals the unique Talents of each individual employee, it also helps team leaders feel confident that employees are in roles where they will thrive. By knowing what drives and drains their team members personally, team leaders are in a position to help individuals map out their next best move, stay engaged in the process and build their own careers.

By seeing and considering everyone with the right talents, potential, and interest for a role, leaders show their workforce a powerful commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. The result is a highly adaptable, explicitly inclusive workforce that keeps pace with change.

Building Talent Resilience requires three distinct capabilities:

  1. Identify ALL employees through objective data and apply it across all talent decisions.
  2. Build inclusive employee experiences by putting the right talent in the right roles to start and then make sure they understand their potential to grow.
  3. Instantaneously align talent with changing business needs at speed and at scale.

We launched the industry’s first and only Talent Resilience Platform, powered by quantified human potential. Our team has invested years perfecting the people science and technology that empowers organizations to make the most accurate hiring decisions. Plum’s Talent Resilience Platform gives bold, purpose-driven leaders the distinct capabilities to apply the same unbiased people science and technology across every talent decision.

There has never been a better time for bold leadership to accelerate overdue change.

It’s time to remove bias at the heart of talent processes and finally give everyone a fair opportunity to reach their potential. It’s time to start prioritizing inclusive employee experiences and get our people excited about bringing the full power of their talents to work everyday. It’s time to stop guessing and lean into quantified human potential to accelerate confident decisions in real time. Finally, it’s time to put the explosive power of our employee’s intrinsic talents at the core of retention, leadership development and career growth.

You can learn more about how purpose-driven leaders are building Talent Resilience right now in our e-book: Talent Resilience: Bold Leadership for Accelerated Change.


[1] KPMG 2020 CEO Outlook: COVID-19 Edition.      2020. https://assets.kpmg/content/dam/kpmg/ca/pdf/2020/09/ceo-outlook-2020-en.pdf.

[2] https://thearf.org/insights-2020/

[3] Dunne, Niall. “How Technology Will Change the Future of Work.” World Economic Forum. February 24, 2016. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/02/the-future-of-work/

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