A- level leaders continually focus on leveraging the firm’s competitive advantage by increasing value to customers and creating wealth for investors. Employees, especially those in strategic roles, are clearly aware of the firm’s strategy for winning in the marketplace. Work is constantly revised to find ways to add more strategic value to customers and to eleminate work (and bureaucracy) that no longer adds value. A- level leaders identify roles that add strategic value and demand they be filled by the best talent available in the labor market and will not settle for less than the best. Performance expectations are clear and consistently raised, employee performance is continually inspected againts these expectations and specific feedback is provided. Reward are disproportionate, reflecting the strategic contribution/performance of the employee. Considerable time is devoted to developing the strategic workforce to coaching, rotations and external training programs. Leaders are evaluated on their leadership capability based on a 90- degree instrument (i.e., from director reports) that assesses how strategically they manage their workforce.
B- Level Leaders
B- level leaders maintain the status quo rather than change. They focus the workforce internally, primarily on today’s work. Work is based on job description (how it was done in the past), rather than future value added to customers. Once created, few positions and little work are eliminated. The objectives of selecting employees is to fill the position, often based on political considerations, not rigorously seeking the best candidate (either inside or outside the firm). Performance expectations are often unclear (or based on job descriptions), and little feedback is provided during the performance period. There is little variance in performance ratings and many employees are highly rated. Rewards are about the same for everyone, irrespective of actual performance. Most “merit” variance can be explained by the employee’s base pay, rather than performance. Development is driven more by convenience, rather than by design, with many high potential candidates identified, regardlessof their strategic role in the firm. Manager’s competencies are assessed, in part, using a 360-degree instrument (often purchased from a consulting firm), where the manager often selects who provides the data. The 360-degree instruments are developmental-only tools, with the results provided only to the manager profiled.
(Source : The Differentiated Workforce by Brian E. Becker; Mark A. Huselid; Richard W. Beatty).