Soundview Executive Book Summaries


Keep the Pipeline Full

Here’s a story that might raise a few eyebrows. The New York Times reported over the weekend about the reintroduction of guaranteed bonuses for certain recruits on Wall Street. The practice has been a part of recruiting in the financial industry for some time, but it’s obviously raising questions in a time period when many companies in the financial sector are on the receiving end of taxpayer-funded government bailouts. The debate over using guaranteed bonuses is an interesting one. Companies could argue that they need the bonuses to ensure that the top talent ends up at their company. The deals this person brokers will bring in profits that would eventually trickle down to those who maintain an investment portfolio with the institution. On the other side of the fence is the taxpaying public who could feel wronged that the companies their tax dollars bailed out are now able to revert to pre-crash era spending. The potential for the financial sector to rapidly return to its fast-living, risk-taking ways makes for a nervous public.

The war for talent, particularly in the leadership realm is an ever-growing concern. Despite business schools churning out scores of graduates each year, there continues to be a claim that true talent is coming at an ever-increasing premium. One person who would likely argue against lavish spending as a means to ensure a company possesses good leaders is author and management expert Ram Charan. We featured his book, co-authored with James Noel and Stephen Drotter, The Leadership Pipeline as a bonus summary for our subscribers in Soundview’s August 2009 edition. Charan and his co-authors are adamant that good leaders can be “home grown” if the company is willing to take the necessary steps to educate the leader and put him or her in the situations necessary to guarantee good growth. Organizations are encouraged to constantly refine and adjust their program to help the company sustain its influx of leaders. If a company executes the practices that Charan, Noel and Drotter suggest, it should not have to resort to a splash of cash to keep the leadership pipeline from slowing to a drip.

As the Times suggests, the practices of the financial sector will give Kenneth Feinberg, the Obama administration’s “pay czar,” plenty to stay busy. Perhaps Feinberg should consider giving Ram Charan a call.

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