Nurturing EHS&S Talent Along the Path to Succession

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Alex Pollock
August 12, 2019
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In my previous blogs for the GreenTie in June and July 2019, I discussed the leadership traits we should be supporting and developing in our future EH&S leaders. The data from an international survey reveals that people are willing to follow leaders who are honest, competent, inspiring and forward-looking.

But as NAEM Executive Director Carol Singer Neuvelt recently asked in a note to members, how can EHS&S leaders identify those future leaders and retain them as they grow?

The question of retention is an important one, because even if you have the talent in your ranks, David Brooks reminds us in his book the "Second Mountain" (2019) that we should never underestimate the power of the environment we work in to gradually transform who we are. Does your company culture satisfy your soul? If it doesn't Brooks suggests that "a little piece of us will go unfed and get hungrier and hungrier".

Organizational superstars, in particular, are likely to be hungry for change, according to a recent Forbes article on the seven secret talents these rising stars share.

If you're putting together your succession plans, you might want to ask yourself whether your internal culture supports or stifles these important traits, namely:
  • Agile and adaptable (change-ready)
  • Tenacious problem solvers
  • Organizational savvy
  • Highly attuned to their leadership's preferences/culture
  • Influences others
  • Broad perspective / strategic thinking
  • Resilient attitude
Do these ring a bell with you? Some clearly line up with the Gallup and Kouzes/Posner research but some are not highlighted. Are these encouraged and rewarded traits in your organization?

After all, leadership retention will be an issue when the gap between our inner compass and organizational expectations becomes too large.

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About the Author

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Alex Pollock
Alex Pollock has been studying leadership effectiveness for more than 30 years. A former leader in environment, health and safety, and public affairs at The Dow Chemical Co., he learned that we all have leadership roles to play. He enjoys discussing new ideas and sharing practical ways we can all become better leaders.

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