We all want to have an abundance of talent in our organizations. We know that talented people can enrich experiences, enhance outcomes, and improve the performance of those around them. We try to hire for talent. Although what may appear to be talent during the hiring process does not always materialize once the person is in the position. We can also be surprised by the talent that emerges within people whom we may not have perceived as exceptional.
The presence of talent opens the potential to innovate. Unique perspectives, incisive insights, and creative ideas generate options and opportunities difficult to discover and exploit in the absence of talent. Yet, talent requires more than mere presence to have a beneficial impact on organizations. Talent needs to be recognized, nurtured, valued, and supported to be sustained.
Further, talent in an organization is not a finite quantity. It is not reserved for a select few whose talents are obvious. In fact, talent often lies hidden in the shadows of awareness in organizations. Talent can languish unrecognized and undeveloped. Unless talent development becomes a focus and priority, it will likely remain an untapped source of creativity and high performance.
If we hope to discover, develop, and deploy the talent potential in our organization, we need to be the catalyst. We need to be the advocate for and protector of talent. We need to do more than value the already visible talent. We need be talent scouts and talent multipliers.
We know the positive impact teachers have when they see themselves as talent scouts and talent developers with their students. Aspirations grow, pride flourishes, learning accelerates, and barriers to future success disappear. We can have a similar impact when we adopt a parallel approach with adults. In fact, our impact can go beyond just adding to the talent present. We can multiply it.
Let’s explore five habits we can adopt to become talent multipliers in our school or school district:
- Consistently look for talent. A fact of life is that we tend to find what we look for. We will notice more symptoms and sources of potential talent and recognize talent that may have been discounted and ignored if we are consciously observant.
- Call out the talent potential you see. Let the person know that you see in them something special that is worthy of investment and development. You will be amazed at the energy and confidence you ignite. Where talent has already been developed, honor it.
- Encourage everyone to find their talent. Talk about the importance of each of us recognizing our talent. Talk with people about their talents. Share stories about people who have discovered latent talents, developed them, and are making important impacts and contributions.
- Invest in talent development. Provide employees with opportunities to discover and develop their talents. Support people to try new roles, explore ideas, test new approaches, and take risks. Make failures and setbacks respected learning opportunities.
- Spread the impact. As new talents emerge, find roles and other opportunities for people to use their talents. In some situations, talents can be tapped without complete departure from current roles. In other situations, a new career path may emerge that needs to be supported. The key is to find ways for people to utilize their talents and continue to refine them. Of course, there will be times when newly emerged talents will lead to opportunities beyond our organization and we may lose access to the talent, but this is not a reason to hesitate. It is an opportunity to contribute to the wider impact of the talent we have helped to develop.
It is important for an organization to be rich with a variety of talents. However, attraction, development, and utilization of talent requires leadership and commitment. When we set our egos aside and focus on the talent we can multiply, we set a course for success and widening influence.