So why commission a report into Game Changers? Nathan Ott, CEO of The GC Index, explains where his inspiration came from.

For over 15 years I have sat across the table from senior executives trying to help them describe the key talent they need to drive their businesses forward. Typically, after we have spent time analysing all of the desired experience and attributes required, the session will end with a phrase like “you know what I mean – they need that spark” or “I’ll know when I see them”.

This has always played on my mind – what makes these individuals stand out? What is that star quality that everyone recognises but cannot articulate? Ultimately, I was given the final push to commission this research after watching Gina, a young aboriginal woman on a BBC documentary about the lesser known parts of Australia.

With her community at risk of forced displacement by the government and a global mining company, Gina decided enough was enough and came up with a way to change things. She set about providing for her community through building a haulage business and contracting services back to the mining company at a profit.

On the face of things everything was against Gina, there were no open doors, but she saw a better way and was going to see it through. A few years on and the community became more affluent, crime rates dropped, schooling and other basic services improved and all because this one woman had the drive, focus and determination to get there. Why did she do this? Why didn’t anyone else? What qualities did Gina have over and above the leaders of the community? I wanted to find out…

There are other people like Gina, people who deliver disproportionate levels of value than their peers. Those that will drive a business forward over and above expectations or their respective pay grades. These are individuals with the X Factor, they have that “je ne sais quoi”.

Every employer wants to recruit someone who has this ‘special something’ but the reality is very few can describe what ‘it’ looks like. As a result more often than not a tick-box assessment approach is taken and a hope that ‘gut feel and instinct’ will prevail to discover this incredible talent.

Unfortunately this approach to recruitment and assessment has inadvertently led to a number of forms of discrimination and many businesses are losing out.

The modern global economy demands instant results and equal opportunities for all. We need individuals with this ‘special something’ at every level of our organisations who make this happen and we need to enable them to excel. With this in mind, we set about discovering what makes them tick.

For years there has been the gravy train of business books written and consultant fees paid around the phenomenon of leadership consulting, high potentials and the development of top talent. The problem: there is too much focus on climbing the corporate ladder. The corporate world is changing and we are missing a trick by focusing on the “need to get to the top” as the main indicator of success. Is this really getting the best out of everyone and driving our businesses forward?

Our findings in this report have the potential to shake up the talent industry. We now have the code we need to identify the ‘Game Changers’ through the masses. It’s now up to us, as business leaders, to use this as a platform to change the way we recruit and nurture those who drive such disproportionate value in our organisations.

Nathan Ott
January 2015