Management guru, Jim Collins (author of legendary business classics  “Built to Last” and “Good to Great”) has extensively studied why companies succeed.   His latest research is on how companies manage in turbulent times.  In a recent interview with Fortune magazine he shared some of what he has learned.  I suggest you read the entire article –  it’s well worth it –  but here are a few excerpts:

“If you go back in history, a few companies used difficult times to bolster their legions of talent…if you do not find a way to get those great people, you’re not thinking long term enough.”

“The right people don’t need to be managed.  The moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you’ve made a hiring mistake.”

“People who take credit in good times and blame external forces in bad times do not deserve to lead.  End of story.”

You have to ask the question, what can we do not just to survive but to turn this into a defining point in history?”

No wonder everyone buys his books.

In a previous post, I defined a top performer as someone who is capable of, and interested in, driving the business results you need – someone who will take responsibility for getting results within the norms of your company culture.  Naturally, Jim said it better.  And how do you find these people?  Read  How to Hire People who Thrive in Downturns.

Has your organization has lost its’ focus on people?  You are not alone, but you may be in trouble.  A recent survey of the leaders of 500 global organizations asked participants to rank the their top challenges.  “Insufficient talent to quickly adapt to change” was listed by only 5% of respondents, far below “Financial pressure to cut costs,” “Rapid Market Decline” and 4 other choices.    Although unsurprising, the survey is still profoundly disturbing.  Just exactly who is supposed to be handling the adaptation to new market conditions – robots?

The survey does not bode well for those 95% of leaders who aren’t paying close attention to their staffing.   In good times mediocre people can look like they are getting results, but as they say, when the tide goes out, you can see who is swimming naked.  In times like these, it may take very different skills to drive results.   Perhaps in the past you could follow a well-worn path to success, but now you might need to trailblaze a new path.  Different skills for different times.  The hard truth for most CEOs is this:  the people who got you to this point, might not be the ones who can drive results right now.