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 / Summer 2008 / Issue 51(originally published by Booz & Company)


Recent Research

Fast-Tracking Talent

Title: Accelerated Development of Organizational Talent
Author: Konstantin Korotov 
Publisher: European School of Management and Technology (ESMT), Working Paper No. 07-004
Date Published: September 2007

The shortage of executive talent is a worsening problem. With many baby-boomer executives reaching retirement age and demand for highly skilled managers increasing because of global competition, firms are often desperate for top managers and willing to pay plenty to poach executives from competitors. These tactics are unsustainable and problematic, primarily because they drive up the cost of talent. As a result, organizations are now investing more in developing young, in-house talent with an eye to fast-tracking the best employees into key roles earlier in their careers.

This approach marks a fundamental shift in career development cycles, which traditionally allowed individuals to take their time learning the ins and outs of a job, experience formal training from superiors, and advance at a comfortable pace. Now it’s typical for executives to maintain their current jobs while being groomed for future roles. As the author of this paper points out, fast-tracking comes with its own set of potential pitfalls. For example, accelerated promotion can elicit envy from colleagues, a feeling of isolation, and even guilt. Fast-tracked individuals are also prone to experiencing “impostor syndrome,” a sinking feeling that they are about to be exposed as hapless and inexperienced. However, fast-tracked leaders, with the right approach (which includes being supported in their current roles and in gaining credibility with the staff as they take on management responsibilities), can overcome these obstacles and be extremely productive.

Bottom Line: Up-and-coming ex­ecutives face new challenges as they are fast-tracked into leadership roles in a fraction of the time it took their predecessors to achieve the same status. To make the shift success­fully, they must quickly adapt to new roles, develop new networks, and gain acceptance from incumbent leadership.

Author Profiles:

Des Dearlove is a business writer based in the U.K. He is the author of a number of management books and a regular contributor to strategy+business and The (London) Times.

Stuart Crainer is a business writer based in the U.K. and a regular contributor to strategy+business. He and Des Dearlove founded Suntop Media, a publishing and training company providing business content for online and print publications.
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