Does your top talent have organisational savvy?

By Dr Lydia Cillie-Schmidt

Most organisations spend a lot of time identifying the critical roles in their organisations for now and into the future. They then spend even more time on identifying and developing potential talent who will be able to step into these roles when needed. Yet, many of these talented people fail when they are placed into these new roles. Ron Carucci states in an article in the Harvard Business Review ( that between 50-70% of executives fail within 18 months of their appointment.


Jacqueline Smith at identified the typical traps that executives fall into based on research by Ron Carucci and Eric Hansen. The main traps were:

  • Using methods that worked before without taking into account the requirements of the new environment.
  • Underestimating how much others are needed for success at the top.
  • Not realising how information gets distorted at higher levels in the organisation.
  • Failing to manage the increased sphere of positional, informational, and relational power afforded by higher level roles.


Most of these traps can be avoided by building your top talent’s organisational savvy. Organisational savvy helps your talent to gain an understanding of their own political styles and the pros and cons of their political styles. Organisational savvy means that the person is aware of context and how others perceive them within this context. Organisational savvy is also about learning to detect deception and filter misleading information, promoting ideas with integrity, building the team, as well as building healthy networks.


The Talent Hub International partnered with Brandon Partners to present their organisational savvy workshops in South Africa. The next workshop is from 21 – 22 November in Gauteng. For more information, contact

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