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Harvard Business Review on Finding & Keeping the Best People by Harvard Business Review

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Growing Talent as if Your Business Depended on It

by Jeffrey M. Cohn, Rakesh Khurana, and Laura Reeves

IN THE THIRTEENTH CENTURY, it took the College of Cardinals almost three years to anoint a successor to Pope Clement IV. To break the stalemate, one of history’s most bitter organizational deadlocks, church officials began limiting the food and drink they provided the voting cardinals, eventually giving them just bread and water. Fortunately, today’s cardinals don’t seem to need such harsh incentives: It took them less than a week to choose Benedict XVI.

When it comes to succession planning (and, by extension, leadership development) in the business world, corporate boards could do with a similar sense of urgency—though we wouldn’t necessarily ...

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