BY JIM DAVIS VICE PRESIDENT, WORKFORCE & SERVICE DEVELOPMENT, DDI
IN THIS PAPER:
> Challenges facing individual contributors
> The individual contributor Success ProfileSM
> A s s e s s i n g a n d d e v e l o p - i n g n o n - m a n a g e m e n t p r o f e s s i o n a l s > C o m m o n c a t e g o r i e s o f c o n c e r n a t t h i s l e v e l
WHITE PAPER — OPTIMIZING YOUR LEADERSHIP PIPELINE INDIVIDUAL CONTRIBUTORS
O P T I M I Z I N G Y O U R L E A D E R S H I P P I P E L I N E S M F O R : I N D I V I D U A L C O N T R I B U T O R S
Individual contributors—also sometimes called team members—outnumber leaders in your organization, likely by a large mar- gin. They satisfy your customers, negotiate with your suppliers, create and support your latest innovations, and provide the manpower for your most pressing business strategies. When most people think about individual contributors they tend to think about these individuals advancing their careers by moving into leadership positions. While this is true for many individual con- tributors, it is certainly not true for all. In a recent study of individual contributors and team members, we found that 62 percent of these individuals do not aspire to a leadership position. The challenge for HR professionals is to provide development and career advancement opportunities not just for emerging leaders, but also for those who wish to advance their careers through the specialist, professional, and expert ranks.
Successful companies are those that deter- mine the appropriate selection and promo- tion methods for both of these categories of individual contributors. They also need to find more efficient and effective ways to take their existing individual contributors to higher levels of skill and competence to deal with the complex and ever-changing business challenges of today’s business environment.
Exceptional performers in this category need to exhibit skills in three key areas, which we call the “high-performance imperatives”:
Influence through personal effectiveness
Partner with others
Build customer loyalty
The ability of your individual contributors to fulfill these high-performance impera- tives will make the difference between strategy realization and underperformance.
Individual contributors may not hold for- mal leadership roles, but they still have a great deal of influence over the ultimate success of your business. To be effective, individual contributors need to work as part of a team, and that means interacting with colleagues in a positive and produc- tive way. Some will step up to informal leadership roles, managing parts of a process or a workgroup with a specific mission, while other top performers want to make the most of their unique technical expertise.
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