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Internal Leadership Development vs External recruitment – The Pepsi Challenge

Internal Leadership Development vs External recruitment – The Pepsi Challenge

The quality of your leadership team is probably the single biggest determinant of how well and how quickly your business grows.

At some point for most small companies, the debate begins about whether to bring some experience managers in…

…and that often means bringing them in from larger companies.

 On the plus side, they should be well-developed and well trained.

They’ve had exposure to a wide range of leadership styles and behaviours in the organizations they’ve come from.

This also means that their salary and benefits expectations may be a lot higher. And sometimes the economics just don’t stack for that in small companies.

Before you do that, consider something else and I mean this most sincerely.

 I would happily put most of my clients and most of the people that have been through my leadership training up against anyone in a Pepsi challenge.

I’ve seen many people coming in from large companies that fail to adapt to the small company environment.

There are three reasons for this.

The first is that typically smaller companies don’t have the same type of support structures that are available to managers in larger companies.

For example, things like HR functions, learning and development, and even IT support.

When I worked at Orange, if my laptop stopped working, my PA just got people to come to replace it and take mine away.

In small companies, we must figure some of this stuff out for ourselves…

…and that can be quite difficult when you’re used to being waited on

The second thing is the chaotic and fast-moving nature of SMEs versus that slightly slower, measured process nature of larger companies.

The CEOs of one corporation I worked for said that getting anything done was like wading through treacle.

This can be one of the reasons why people want to leave larger organizations to join smaller ones.

But the idea of a fast-paced fast-moving quick decision-making company is quite different from the perception of it.

It’s often a source of stress and dis-ease for people used to structure.

The third thing is the proximity of the owner.

Everything an SME leader does is subject to immediate scrutiny by the business owners.

They end up continually trying to read and adapt around the changing moods of someone that’s utterly passionate about their business.

That really isn’t easy.

These are the reasons why I believe that it’s often better to develop someone within the company than to bring someone in from the outside.

That’s not to say there isn’t work to do with these people because developing leadership skills, confidence, commercial acumen, and resilience is vital…

…if you want them to elevate their game and contribute to growing the company.

They’ve had less exposure to these ideas and a limited pool of experience and people to help build their leadership capability.

 Investing in and developing them is not only a cheaper option, but it’s also far more likely to be effective in the long term.


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