Is Your Organization Talent-Ready? Launching Our Expanded Talent Services Practice

Look across the sector and you’ll find countless organizations focused on the important work of developing broader teacher and leader pipelines to education organizations. Teach for America, TNTP, New Leaders, Education Pioneers, Encore Fellows Network, The Broad Residency, The Strategic Data Project, and the new The Surge Fellowship are some of the more well known examples. Each has changed the national conversation about who works in education, which skills are needed, and what it takes to get high-caliber professionals in the organizations that need them most.

But what happens when a talented teacher, principal, or system-level leader lands in an organization that’s not equipped to allow him or her to thrive? As a field, we’ve spent more than a decade focusing on the supply side of the talent equation without commensurate consideration for building talent-ready organizations that are innovative, effectively managed, and joyful places to work that generate dramatic results for students.

At Bellwether we are proud to announce our expanded Talent Services practice to support organizations to become talent-ready. Grounded in our track record of success placing transformational leaders in new roles and our disciplined strategic approach to growing effective organizations, Talent Services captures the best of Bellwether’s integrated approach.

Working with education organizations across the field, we’ve witnessed the lack of talent-readiness firsthand. We see three major gaps:

  1. Organizations with inspiring missions and ambitious strategic plans often lack opportunities for their team to develop leadership and management skills to implement these plans effectively.
  2. The absence of a talent strategy combined with nascent talent management systems increase inefficiencies.
  3. Insufficient attention to intentionally building diverse and inclusive cultures can impact the success of people of color and other minority groups within an organization and widen the racial and cultural divide between the organizations and the communities they serve.

In addition, many education organizations regularly sacrifice a healthy and sustainable professional culture in order to generate impact for kids. At Bellwether, we don’t think these are mutually exclusive.

Organizational effectiveness is inextricably connected to leadership development and talent management, sustainability, and diversity. Talent readiness is fundamentally about creating great places to work that maximize human potential. Top talent needs to land in “talent-ready”* organizations that attract and retain diverse talent, ensure that all people have development opportunities to optimize their potential, and create a culture where diversity tangibly enhances the organization’s mission.

At Bellwether, we’re bringing a rigorous, evidence-based approach to creating talent-ready education organizations. The work is important and complex so we’re leveraging our strong roots in research, strategy, and executive search to help leaders assess the degree to which their organizations are talent-ready and then rolling up our sleeves to work side-by-side to make it happen.

That’s why we are particularly proud to launch our expanded Bellwether Talent Services practice. We’ve spent the last two years developing and piloting the Bellwether talent-ready framework, a research-based tool to examine organizational effectiveness in the education sector. We’ve developed a suite of diagnostic, planning, and implementation services aligned to the framework to respond to the needs of the organizations we serve. In the coming weeks, we will share early learning and trends from our work with school districts, charter school management organizations, and other education nonprofit organizations.

We do this work because we believe that the education sector’s ability to serve students, especially its highest need students, depends on the quality of its people.

To make high-quality schools a reality for every child, the education sector must not only compete for the best talent but also invest in creating organizations that sustain these talented individuals and maximize their potential as professionals and people.


* “Talent-ready” is a smart term we first heard from Kathleen deLaski and Todd Kern.