| Aug 21, 2009
By: Cord Cooper

Top firms build strength from within, say exec coaches Dave Ulrich, Norm Smallwood and Kate Sweetman, authors of “The Leadership Code.”

To crack the code and win:

• Map the work force. List key positions companywide. Then ask: Are the right people filling them? Are they making the most of each slot? Where could improvements be made?

Then ask more questions, the authors advise: What jobs will make the biggest difference to results in the next five to 10 years?

How soon can you staff key slots if workers move up or jump ship?

• Boost careers. To build bench strength — a reserve of workers to fill key slots — start a leadership program to move top employees through the ranks.

Eye your best and brightest. Go one-on-one, spotlighting their career goals and opportunities in your firm. Look for ways to align both.

Ask what it’ll take to keep workers with you for the long haul.

Learn six more ways to crack the code and win.