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Executive Editor's Note: With this issue of the journal we introduce the new "Point/ Counterpoint" section. We chose and "pre-published" a short article from a thought leader and invited up to 750-word responses to it from our Editorial Review Board. Responses may be in radical agreement or disagreement, or have a story to symbolize and support it or to refute it. Some may add a global or cross-cultural perspective. Some are informally conversational and humorous, whereas others are more formal and serious. We believe this approach will advance the debate on key topics. If our members find this valuable we would like to make this a regular feature of the journal and open the Counterpoint debate to our membership. We see it as one more way of bringing forward the best thinking related to people and strategy.

The first article chosen for Point/ Counterpoint was written by an old friend of HRPS (and for many years in the '80s my dotted line boss at PepsiCo), Dr. Bob Eichinger, whom we know to have both innovative and at times controversial fact-based opinions! Many thanks to Bob for being willing to try this. We hope you enjoy the article and the many well thought out responses to it. We were pleased with the quality and quantity of the responses.

Our new Perspectives editor, Dr. Anna Tavis (anna.tavis@aig.com), will own this section and manage this process. We would like to hear from you. Please also consider this an open invitation to offer up a short article that could be used to generate Counterpoints!

Richard Vosburgh

Executive Editor

POINT Is "Build On Your Strengths" The Best Advice?

So I Was Thinking ...

Bob Eichinger

CEO, Lominger International

A Korn/Ferry Company

We are all getting ready for the second world war for talent. We all know the script. Demographics. Oldies are retiring and the youngish are taking over. Global. Everything is getting more complicated. Speed. Everything is getting faster. CEOs are under pressure to deliver Growth. Jobs are getting bigger, more complex, and more global, and the pool of senior talent is dwindling. As if that were not bad enough, CEOs are stumbling at a greater pace. Freshly minted GMs are failing in their first assignments. Derailment is mostly fueled by a lack of "EQ" (emotional intelligence) and adaptability (learning agility). CFOs are leaving because of the new regulatory environment. So what to do?

That set me to thinking. Two big things are rummaging around the competency space. One is the finding that most successful managers and executives have somewhere between five and seven strengths around which they build a highly successful career. Specifically, they have five to seven of the most mission critical skills for the jobs they have, have no noise (that is, they are at least average) in the rest of the mission critical skills, and have no glaring detailers. That means, as it always has, that no one is expected to have all of the competencies listed on the executive success profile. Success is not cloning. They need five to seven of the nine to 15 that comprise a typical success profile. The other buzz in the competency world is the so-called "strengths movement." This movement tells you to find your strengths. Build your strengths. Use your unique strengths to build your career. Find a place and a role that fits your unique strengths. There is no need to address your weaknesses.

So I was thinking ... What should I tell my two newly minted college graduate children about how to plan for their careers? What should I tell the youngish up and comers about how to prepare for their future careers?

How many people have enough (e.g., five, just to pick a number) strengths?

That sort of depends upon how you define a strength.

Simply stated, a strength might be what you personally are best at. If you need five strengths to succeed, they are your five best skills. …