War for Talent: How to Light the Fire in People: People, Leadership and Culture Are the Keys to Unlocking Organisational Potential and Performance According to Dr Allan Hawke, Australia's High Commissioner in New Zealand. He Explained His "Results through People" Leadership Philosophy to the Wellington Branch of the New Zealand Institute of Management

By Hawke, Allan | New Zealand Management, May 2005 | Go to article overview

War for Talent: How to Light the Fire in People: People, Leadership and Culture Are the Keys to Unlocking Organisational Potential and Performance According to Dr Allan Hawke, Australia's High Commissioner in New Zealand. He Explained His "Results through People" Leadership Philosophy to the Wellington Branch of the New Zealand Institute of Management


Hawke, Allan, New Zealand Management


We get paid to deliver results. But, results come through people. People are the way to superior performance. Results and people are both sides of the same coin--if the people side isn't right, then you can't get the results side right. People matter. People make the difference.

This article attempts to provide a further taste of why people matter and argues that the dividend from a "people first" approach is sustained success on the results side.

Changes in our societal framework, the impact of information technology--especially the importance of knowledge as a source of comparative advantage in enterprise--and demographic trends, signal a fundamental change in the workplace. This will be accompanied by a power shift from executives to people who populate organisations. Unless leaders get in touch with people's opinions and are responsive to their need for meaningful, rewarding work, those people will increasingly vote with their feet.

The old social contract--a job for life--is a thing of the past. Most people have got the message that they must plan and manage their own career.

The workforce is becoming more demanding and increasingly likely to select a vocation where they can change jobs every couple of years. Individuals focus on what they can learn; their accessibility to education, training and development; and a package of terms and conditions, tailored to their individual needs at the time. They seek more say in decisions that affect them and more involvement in the direction, purpose and efficacy of their enterprise.

The "war for talent" is a powerful expression of the primary challenge that organisations face to excel in the early part of the 21st century.

Talking about people as a resource, an asset, or as human capital, reveals a "mind set" that considers people as simply another cost centre. Terms such as "people management" and "human resources" are similarly inappropriate. One Aussie or Kiwi dollar is the same as any other Aussie or Kiwi dollar. People are different. They are individuals and want to be recognised and treated accordingly.

Research shows that executives whose people achieve better performance (in terms of productivity, cost, job satisfaction, turnover, absenteeism etc) lead differently from those whose work groups exhibit poorer performance. Those with the best record focus their primary attention on people and build effective teamwork based on high performance goals.

Where people know that their executives feel that achieving a high level of performance is the most important part of their job, they deliver. Enthusiasm about the importance and meaningfulness of the work- and a conviction that the purpose adds value--contributes to exceptional performance.

Being unselfish, cooperative, sympathetic, participative and genuinely interested in each individual's success--including specific recognition of the importance of people getting the balance that they desire between their work and personal/family life--also has a marked relationship to success.

When I was Australia's Secretary of Defence we developed a framework to facilitate a work environment where everyone wanted to (and could) make a difference and contribute to a sustainable high performance culture.

Our quest to set the standard and foster greater accountability among senior leaders rested upon their creating a climate to allow people to do their best as they worked towards their aspirations and potential. This called for a greater focus on the day-to-day workplace behaviour of senior leaders and a broadening of the criteria for leadership away from technical competence alone to include emotional intelligence, relationships and "people skills" driven by our "results through people" credo.

A series of three-day workshops designed to explore the "results through people" approach, included a survey designed to reveal the essential skills/qualities of outstanding bosses. …

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War for Talent: How to Light the Fire in People: People, Leadership and Culture Are the Keys to Unlocking Organisational Potential and Performance According to Dr Allan Hawke, Australia's High Commissioner in New Zealand. He Explained His "Results through People" Leadership Philosophy to the Wellington Branch of the New Zealand Institute of Management
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