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With the economy gradually beginning to show signs of recovery, multinational companies are once again on the lookout for talented recruits.

How can SMEs ensure that they too can have their pick of graduates with the right skills to help their organisations thrive?

According to Helen Lim, managing director of social enterprise Silver Spring, the solution is “to be creative”.

Speaking at a lecture at Singapore Management University, organised by the UOB-SMU Entrepreneurship Alliance Centre, Ms Lim says that SMEs need a change of mindset if they are to compete for the same talent.

These companies should try to come up with creative ways to sell themselves she says: Ms Lim suggests that SMEs should attend networking events and tap into professional and personal contacts. They should also be open to the idea of using the skills of older people who are likely to give advice on a contract or consultancy basis. Using skills in this way will also ensure that the SME is not burdened with expensive headcount.

Ms Lim also points out that a good online presence is also essential if the SME wishes to thrive. The site should promote the company’s brand and also its mission and values she adds.

How does a chief executive or a politician, selected for their leadership skills find themselves detached from reality and living in a world of their own?

According to Jan de Vuijst, professor of information science at TiasNimbas Business School in the Netherlands, the phenomenon is more common than you would think and can occur quite easily.

The top layers of many organisations, politicians as well as companies he says can cultivate a layer of isolation, so that the bosses find themselves becoming increasingly detached and their grasp on reality dwindling.

The causes says Prof Jan de Vuijst have two roots - financial greed and the inability to listen. Leaders are admired, frequently he says with good reason, but such admiration does not lead to a nuanced perspective. A chief executive or a politician’s opinions for example will be taken seriously and promptly acted upon. In time a handful of leaders, will see this as the natural course of events, will come to view feedback as negative criticism and will perceive the inidividual who aired the views as a troublemaker.

Another factor says Prof Jan de Vuijst comes down to greed and the desire for larger and larger remuneration. This too can lead to “corruption and selfish decisions”.

To avoid such issues, Prof Jan de Vuijst suggests three possible solutions: select bosses with strong personal leadership and accept personal responsibility, reward co-operation in the layersof management more than individual excellence and organise a feedback mechanism around the leader - an external advisor might be advisable he says.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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