I have consistently come across certain themes. I want to take this opportunity to discuss one of them–talent.

In fact, the idea that excellent companies rely on talented individuals flies in the face of traditional thinking. Once upon a time, people fitted into a company. Such employees where neatly categorized into while-collar and blue-collar workers.

Now, however, there are “gold collar” workers.

These are the high-fliers who are identified, reared and protected by the company like a prize pedigree.

In the past, companies talked about labor management. Later, it was about knowledge and skills. Now, it has gone one step further.

Yes, it’s true: knowledge is hard to destroy; hard to protect; hard to measure. However, the true source of competitive advantage is not so much knowledge but talent. Talent is the only remaining scarce resource.

Unfortunately, in some cultures, individual success and talent sit uncomfortably with the prevailing culture. The British, for example, are reluctant to celebrate and reward exceptionally talented people. This can be seen in the way the British treat up and coming sportsmen and women. To some extent, this thinking has carried over to business. By contrast, in the US there is a willingness to recognize and reward talented people. In Germany and France, professionally qualified people have a much higher standing in society.

Even so, talent is not a matter of indulgence but of commercial necessity.

Staying ahead of the competition is no longer simply a question of finding the right niche or making things cheaper than anyone else. Such advantages will not take you far in the long run. You need talented people who are willing to spot opportunities and go out on a limb and making things happen–and get results for the company.

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So, how does a company develop talent?

Experts have highlighted the following points for the successful management of talent:

  • Provide a clear sense of direction and purpose
  • Develop an appropriate and relevant company framework
  • Understand your culture
  • Identify future requirements for talent
  • Develop recruitment and selection strategies
  • Identify high potential
  • Retain your talent
  • Set clear objectives and ensure they are met
  • Motivate and develop your talent
  • Evaluate your talent

Even so, companies have long realized that talent and knowledge are notoriously difficult to measure. Instead, companies have found it more realistic to focus on productivity and logistics, which can be measured more easily.

So, what exactly is talent?

Well, a talented individual tends to be:

  • Intelligent
  • A good team player
  • Capable of progressing and growing
  • Is business savvy
  • Knows about products, services and markets
  • Excellent communicator
  • Has a winner’s mentality
  • Has drive and ambition
  • Is able to operate effectively in ambiguous environments
  • Is socially aware
  • Can take the initiative
  • Can take calculated risks
  • Is able to understand human, political and bargaining processes

What do you think?

As a talented person, have you struggled to find your own niche?

Have you ever felt suffocated by the conventional wisdom?

Finally, how did you deal with such challenges?

Feel free to share your experiences in the comments and thank you for your patronage.

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