Book Review

The Talent Mandate: Why Smart Companies Put People First by Andrew Benett

A book Review by | Ben Eubanks

I have learned that based on my own interests and daily work, I am eager to consume just about anything I can find related to talent management. When I got this review copy, I dove in and while it’s been a while coming, I finally had time to put together a review of this excellent resource.

Things I liked

  • Show, don’t just tell. the talent mandate andrew benetStop saying, “People are our greatest asset!” and actually demonstrate how it’s true. Actions speak louder than words.
  • Make culture a priority. “There is something strangely intangible about culture, something that can be felt but not always articulated.” In other words, culture is what happens when you are not looking. So how do you embed that into your organization? Codify what is important. Form a “Culture Corps” to define why people like working for the organization, what the organization and people aspire to be/achieve over time, and reinforce both.
  • Always be asking three critical questions: is the culture grounded in values, does the culture promote cohesion, does the CEO make culture a top priority? If the answer to any of those is “no,” then you’re going to face difficulties in maintaining the best culture for the organization.
  • Consider a “manager detox.” New managers at Rackspace are required to undergo a three day training to “un-learn” outside thinking to avoid polluting the new environment. We’ve all run into “that’s how we did it at my last job” situations, and many of those with questionable results. This process helps to overcome those potential conflicts.
  • “Be comfortable with what you don’t know.” The best ideas come from a team, not just from a single executive. Every employee wants to make an impact, so give them a chance!
  • Hiring for agility as a competency. This means looking for strong thinkers who can apply their knowledge to different types of business problems. Agile leaders focus first on big picture and then on how their piece will contribute to that. Dave Ulrich provides a model describing four types of agility: learning (curious, finds simplicity in complexity), people (self-aware, makes other succeed), change (likes to experiment), results (flexible in ideas, works well in teams). The bottom line: find someone with those traits and you’ll have an excellent example of an agile leader on your hands.

Final thoughts

If you’re also looking for ideas and tips on talent management, then I encourage you to check this book out. I think you’ll learn a few things, see some old concepts in a new light, and challenge yourself and your organization to be better at managing talent overall. The Talent Mandate is a great book. Click here if you would like your own copy.

Originally reviewed @

Editorial Reviews


The Talent Mandate offers marvelous insights and practical tools around six essential talent strategies–grounded in CEO expectations and translated to specific actions that leaders can implement in modern organizations. Useful for all leaders committed to winning though exceptional talent.” ―Dave Ulrich, Professor, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, Partner, The RBL Group

“Human beings want to excel. The best leaders know this, and they create the space for their people to do just that–to soar. Andrew Benett has done a remarkable job of bringing this simple yet powerful fact to life through the words and experiences of the leaders we admire most. Listen up. Or get ready for your competitors to race past you . . . with your people at their side.” ―Peter A. Reiling, Executive Vice President for Leadership, The Aspen Institute

“Radically rethinking how we attract, develop, retain, and inspire great people in the new ideas economy can no longer be relegated to the HR department. This book provides a recipe for how leadership can create sustainable competitive advantage.” ―Jim Speros, Executive Vice President, Fidelity Investments

“If your company is known as the best place to work in your industry, you will attract the best people in your industry. It’s that simple. Benett’s The Talent Mandate goes well beyond sound bites to offer practical advice every executive and company can use to attract, empower, and ultimately inspire great talent.” ―Mark D’Arcy, Director of Creative, Facebook

“Drawing on dozens of interviews with some of America’s most renowned corporate leaders, The Talent Mandate gives practical advice about how to foster qualities essential to the new workplace. Competition for top talent has never been fiercer, and CEOs will want to heed this valuable counsel.” ―Jerry Noonan, Global Leader, Consumer Practice, Spencer Stuart

“Talent is the single most critical differentiating factor in business success. In The Talent Mandate, Benett goes deep below the surface and shows how companies in a broad range of industries are thriving due to their masterful talent practices. If you are competing for the best, then this book is a must-read.” ―Mike O’Driscoll, Group CEO, Williams F1/Williams Grand Prix Engineering

“A refreshing perspective on talent management from the chair of a line manager rather than HR. The Talent Mandate brilliantly sets out some powerful, proven talent strategies, constantly layered with rich, insightful, and practical axioms that can deliver quick, yet substantial wins for any leader looking to take his or her organization to another level.” ―Antony Young, Chief Executive Officer, North America, Mindshare

“It is a timeless truth known since the dawn of civilization that people matter most. High performance and good production are logical outgrowths of investments made in people. In the end, the difference between average companies and smart companies can be found in the manifestation of this truth: people first. Andrew Benett understands both the art and science of finding, nurturing, and sustaining talent for the good of the individual as well as for the entire enterprise. Anyone interested in being an effective leader can learn tremendously from this book.” ―Eric L. Motley, PhD; Vice President and Managing Director, Henry Crown Fellowship Program, The Aspen Institute


About the Author

Andrew Benett is the global president of Havas Worldwide, one of the largest advertising agencies, with clients that include some of the world’s most renowned brands. He is also chief strategy officer of Havas Creative Group. His previous books include Good for Business: The Rise of the Conscious Corporation and Consumed: Rethinking Business in the Era of Mindful Spending. Andrew is a member of the 2012 class of Henry Crown Fellows at the Aspen Institute.
Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button