Top companies hire talented people – that’s the easy part. Keeping them as they excel is an entirely different story.
As talented professionals perform and grow in their role, great managers identify the cream of the crop on their team: Superstars and Rockstars. In Radical Candor, author Kim Scott describes both:
Superstars are high performers with rapid growth potential
Rockstars are high performers interested in more limited growth
Scott notes that superstars expect to ascend quickly in their career and are prepared to put the time and effort in to make it happen. Rockstars, on the other hand, don’t want rapid growth at all: they really like the job they perform each day and they do it very well. What rockstars do expect, however, is recognition.
Your superstars want to grow into leaders.
Your rockstars want to be recognized for their strong performance.
According to Scott, it’s that simple.
HR and Talent Development teams at top companies across the globe are leaning into innovation as they unlock nonprofit board service programming as a primary way to meet the needs of both groups of high-priority professionals.
I know because my company is working with them to make this happen, at scale.
Let’s start with your superstars.
Too often corporate leadership development programs have been focused on passive listening experiences: picture hyped-up crowds of people listening to a great-looking speaker who zip lined on to a colorfully hued stage, pumping up the rank and file with worn out leadership tropes and stories of guaranteed success. (Yes, I’m looking at you Tony Robbins). Or maybe the HR or Talent team has developed a first-rate curriculum for turning managers into leaders which is, in my view, a great start.
But I want to posit that leaders are best developed through experiential learning opportunities. To say it plainly, we learn to lead by leading.
Allow me to share a story from my youth.
I taught myself to drive at the age of 13, speeding a fire engine red 1982 VW Rabbit around Covenant Hills Camp in Otisville, Michigan. My Dad was Camp Director and during off-season — when the grounds didn’t have campers or guests — he would let me take his keys and race his Rabbit around Covenant Hills Camp’s winding dirt roads, birch trees and A-frame cabins. We made a pact that we wouldn’t let Mom know of this arrangement. Only once did I almost get into a wreck, narrowly missing a head-on collision with a sugar maple tree. In that moment, I learned that it was important to slow down when rounding a corner with loose gravel underneath the tires. I never had a close call like that again. I learned to drive as I drove.
Confucius described experiential learning in 450 BC:
Tell me, and I will forget.
Show me, and I may remember.
Involve me, and I will understand.
But how does nonprofit board service meet the needs of your rockstars – those high performers who don’t want to grow into leaders?
Let me wrap up with an example for both categories.
Mohamed is a global leader at one of the world’s largest international professional services firm. We placed Mohamed on the Board of Directors of an international development organization reaching more than 90 million people facing humanitarian crises across the globe. Mohamed has been promoted at least six times over the last 11 years, the definition of a superstar. Yet having reached the top echelon of leadership in his firm, Mohamed nonetheless wanted to dive into nonprofit board service to make a difference on a cause close to his heart, exercise new leadership muscles in a legislative-like environment, and continue to build his professional network. A superstar never stops growing.
So, to sum up:
A company must work hard for superstars and rockstars to keep feeling the love or run the risk of losing these high-priority professionals. But superstars and rockstars feel the love in differing ways.
Superstars want to grow into leaders, quickly. Rockstars need their talents to be recognized.
HR/Talent teams on the leading edge of innovation are leveraging nonprofit board service as a way to meet the needs of their superstars and rockstars.
In Part II of this blog series, we will look at Experiential Learning Theory and SHRM’s Leadership Competency model to see how nonprofit board service is a direct hit for HR/talent teams looking to expand how the company grows its leaders. To be sure you don’t miss it, sign up for our newsletter by clicking here.
Rob Acton, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Cause Strategy Partners
In 2010, Rob Acton made a New Year’s Resolution to shift from asking people what kind of work they do, to asking, “What causes do you support?” With nearly three decades of experience founding, leading and scaling social good organizations as both nonprofit chief executive and board leader, Rob was surprised to discover that the majority of caring, skilled, driven, and networked professionals weren’t supporting any causes with their resources, time, or talents. Cause Strategy Partners was created to disrupt disengagement by connecting talented professionals to purposeful community leadership opportunities, at scale.