What do we think of when the term “talent” is used in a conversation? Do we think of Einstein, Mozart, Picasso, Spielberg, Streep or Hawkins?
Twenty years ago, those kinds of individuals were labeled “Top Talent”. Obviously, those people were in a league of their own.
Was Einstein considered normal by his contemporaries? Or like many geniuses, was he considered eccentric?
BTW – find me on Twitter @talentdefined
Talent & Geniuses
How necessary is it to hire someone who could be the “poster child for genius”? Where does ‘fit’ enter the equation?. Did you know that Einstein didn’t speak until he was around 3 years old? That he wasn’t fluent in his language and couldn’t read until he was around 7? That in school his teachers described as “mentally slow and unsociable”?
Perhaps the term genius is considered differently today? Not all geniuses are “weirdos”. Genius today is more reflected in one’s ability to shape one’s time and place. This may be one of the best definitions of true genius.
“Genius is the ability to put into effect what is on your mind.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald
I recently read a list of who are considered to be “The 50 Greatest Living Geniuses Today”. Some of the names you would absolutely expect to see – Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Elon Musk, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg, Stephen Hawking, Warren Buffet.
Under today’s standard affecting ‘change’, some of the other geniuses identified on the same list are – Aung San Suu Kyi, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Sir Ian McKellan, Richard Branson, Joel Coen, Jackie Chan, Bob Dylan, YoYo Ma, Oprah Winfrey, Anna Wintour, Cormac McCarthy, Conan O’Brien and The Dalai Lama.
The Einstein’s of our time are one-of-a-kind thinkers.
Talent in the Workplace
We must not forget that we all interact with many individuals during our daily lives who are Triple A (Above | Average | Ability) talent. Sometimes theses people are Subject Matter Experts (SME’s) and other times they may be those individuals who are so adept, quick and innovative that they become the company’s “problem solver extraordinaire”. Either way, when we share time with AAA people, we learn from them and, conversely, they may learn from us.
The Talent School of Thought
There are two ways to view this school of thought-
- People who are born talented; it is something considered innate.
- Talent as a skill that is acquired, developed and honed.
This is important. How do we choose the best people when building or adding to a team? When executives believe that talent is developed, how much money are they willing to spend on growing and developing their people? How do they set the budget? Either way, talent is a recurring pattern of thought, feeling, or behavior.
Talent is a special ability that allows someone to do something well and with the capacity for successful achievement of a goal.
Meeting THE Talent
Commonly accepted that there are two fundamental truths about great talent.
- They only want to work with other equally great people.
- When working together, great people feed off of each other.
Every company needs high-impact talent with technical skills, business acumen, domain and industry knowledge and experience. The reality is that the demand for professionals with ‘everything’ in one package is not always very realistic.
Hiring Managers are feeling the pressure and are being exceedingly challenged today finding talent. Those candidates with the right combination of skills and industry expertise are not as plentiful as one would like. Meeting them at the right time seldom happens. This fact is making the lives of Human Resource departments more and more complicated.
Candidate talent pools are receding. The market is highly competitive. Hiring Managers are forced to stretch their budgets. There is always an increased emphasis on salaries when it becomes necessary to wade further and deeper into the pool looking for THE Talent.
It is becoming more and more obvious that at this time there just aren’t enough great candidates out there to meet all of the employer’s expectations. There is an increasing demand for technical and business-minded talent – at the front line and all the way to the executive suite. It is no surprise that the most desirable talent is not readily available when needed.
As the talent pool has been draining, there has been no obvious restocking taking place.
Talent is NOT an Online Commodity
Some believe that talent is online in databases and ready for the picking. Some believe that employee referral programs are the ‘silver bullet’.
It’s true, technology and social media may have made candidate identification somewhat easier. What isn’t any easier is getting the candidate’s attention. Today, candidate recruiting and hiring has actually become more challenging, complicated and difficult. Just ask any potential candidate what it is like to be inundated with repeated contact about ‘the perfect job’.
Finding AAA Talent takes help. Search Consulting is about maintaining and leveraging relationships. It’s about wooing, courting and engaging with talent. True headhunting relies on uniquely human skills – not advertising job postings.
Successful search work takes human chemistry, time, practice, experience and business skill to make things happen. Unfortunately, due to the proliferation of social media, many of these skills have been either lost or never properly in many circumstances.
A lot of modern-day scientists probably have significantly more knowledge and analytical intelligence than the Einstein’s of the previous centuries. Thanks to the diversity of human experience and human talents, genius isn’t a quality that appears the same in every person.
Further study could help determine whether Einstein originally had an extraordinary brain, that gave him his talent, or if it was his remarkable work that caused his brain to expand in an unusual way.
Will we ever know for sure? Probably not.
Einstein existed in a time before science became a team sport.
“People who boast about their I.Q. are losers.”
― Stephen Hawking