Thinking About Talent

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Thinking About Talent

The Art of Getting Good People to Join Our Team

We all need to get good persons to join our team. Whether it is as an employee, an associate, a business partner, a six-a-side football team member, or another member of our church ministry, we would like to have persons with talent who also make a good fit with the team. In today’s business jargon this is referred to as ‘finding and onboarding good talent’.  And as experience tells us, this is not always easy. Most of us have had an experience when we made a bad choice.

One of the top Ten Business Books of the past twelve months hopes to help us in this process. It is the book ‘Talent: How to Identify Energizers, Creatives, and Winners Around the World by Tyler Cowen and Daniel Gross’.  This article highlights some of the advice in the book. I found it a good read.

The book advises that we shouldn’t just look at a candidate, but at their trajectory. Are they on a growth trajectory? I found this interesting – they explained it as – are they learning and growing fast, or are they stuck at the same level of performance they have been for a few years? They suggest that two individuals can have the same current job position but can be radically different. A job position is a snapshot at a point in time but not a measure of movement. Is one person stuck in that position while the other is on movement upwards and just passing through that position? The answer makes all the difference in what to expect from them in years to come.

Another valuable point is that we overrate the importance of intelligence, and we underrate the importance of values. Apparently, research shows that persons with high values, morals, ethics, what was once referred to as virtues, make for better team members. 

We also underrate the importance of what the authors call durability: the dedication to mission, to one’s self, and the ability to keep on going despite setbacks. Challenges will come and some persons get floored by challenges and stay down, while others bounce back up. Look into their past – have they overcome major setbacks in life? This is a good sign of durability.

Another interesting point is the ability to change perspective when confronted by a major obstacle. Some persons can only look at a situation from one perspective, which may be defeating, while others can eventually see the situation from a different perspective that could be energizing. Again, investigate their past and see if the person has been able to carry on with a personal wound – physical illness, emotional or psychological pain – how did they get the will to carry on – how do they look at their handicap? Have they been able to change their perspective?

One of the hopeful things about the book is that it states, with practice, we can all get better at identifying Energizers and Creators for our teams.