Engagement & Development: Keys to Engaging and Developing Top Talent

Developing Tomorrow’s Leaders

Human Capital Strategies of C-Suite Executives: The Future of Food & Ag, Part 3 of 3

Developing executives to meet future human capital needs has C-suite leaders examining former assumptions and identifying a different set of attributes and characteristics in their executive team. They also have a variety of ways to tackle the approach to development, ranging from formal, structured talent development and leadership programs to looser, more bespoke solutions to executive development.

Executive coaching drives goals with more clarity

Many C-suite leaders we talked with use executive coaches as an important development approach – and they can be particularly helpful in smaller organizations or start-ups that don’t have formal programs.

Naveen Sikka of TerViva explained that half of the members of his leadership team are currently in coaching relationships and the company now includes executive coaches as part of its executive compensation package.

“I find it invaluable. Executive coaching is huge to help us with development. It helps us to communicate better and drive goals with more clarity.”

Naveen Sikka, Terviva

Some leaders are looking to be more formal and intentional in their approach to executive development. Robert Hodgen, said he recently hired a Chief Human Resources Officer, a new position at King Ranch, who is tasked with building a leadership development program for the top 30 people in the company. Until that is underway, Hodgen encourages executives to take advantage of external leadership programs and advanced executive education courses—an approach shared by many C-suite leaders.

Seeking insights from experts outside the company with deep knowledge of the industry is a wise way to get a fresh perspective, especially in understanding the rapid changes taking place in the food and ag world, says K&R Managing Director Lloyd Le Page.

“There’s always a danger in business, where people are teaching each other about the same things, and they don’t get enough outside information coming in. You need that inflow of new thinking.”

While training and education is important, Victor Ochoa of Granjas Carroll, says he finds that giving his senior leaders special assignments and different challenges creates a sense of excitement about their work. “They need to enjoy working here and have fun in their job.”

A focus on mentoring young leaders

With their future focus, and the complex challenges ahead for the industry, survey respondents and those interviewed are aware of the need to proactively accelerate the potential of young leaders.

Mentoring is at the top of the list as an effective approach to cultivate younger talent. Some have formal programs for mentoring and training. Others say that giving younger leaders challenging assignments or moving them around in different roles is an effective development strategy.

According to Kim Nicholson of The Mosaic Company, “We’re always looking at the future leaders. We find that giving them the opportunity to manage and lead teams for specific transformation or innovation projects around the globe is a great way to test the waters, to see whether they enjoy leading people.”

For AAK‘s Jonas Berndtsson, a recent exodus of young leaders from the company has been a wake-up call— and a recognition that a dedicated program for these high-potential leaders is a priority. “That is something we definitely need to address. We’ve seen younger talent leave the company for positions we felt they weren’t ready for in our organization. Could we have offered them a similar position internally? I’m quite convinced of that. As a first step, we’re encouraging our managers to dare to have that dialogue with younger leaders in annual performance reviews.”

Mentoring is also about being exposed to leaders in person, on a daily basis, who role model good behavior. This is something younger, high-potential leaders may be lacking in today’s hybrid workforce, according to Ed Yuhas, Managing Partner at Kincannon & Reed. He advises companies to pay attention to ensure their future leaders are being nurtured in the right way.

Looking ahead

“Over the next three years, our continued priority is to communicate and build excitement over the long-term vision of our company,” says Lisa Escudero, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Phibro Animal Health Corporation. “That’s how we believe we’ll ensure the human capital needed for the future.”

For Terviva, Sikka says: “In terms of talent, the priority over the next three is to grow our agriculture and good operations expertise, to combine it with our legacy expertise in innovation so we can deliver on our promises.”