How do you find world class talent? And how do you develop it?
From the time we are little, we’re taught by many people that raw talent, if honed and massaged throughout the years, can lead to amazing performances. Many of us have lived by that mantra, making our way through careers (and even lives) with it in mind. Now that we are leaders in – and sometimes of – businesses, we have carried the notion even further, aspiring to hire individuals who show natural talent.
But what if it’s all been a hoax of epic proportions?
Geoff Colvin is a dynamic speaker who has an unorthodox viewpoint when it comes to talent and performance. In fact, his keynote addresses is “Talent is Overrated – Real Truths of Great Performance.”
Could he be correct?
Hearing him in person makes you wonder. He brings up some excellent points, especially when it comes to the way leaders in the business world tend to think about how to ratchet up the performance of their employees and, by proxy, their companies.
As he explains, performance comes not from all those things that we were taught to believe (e.g., hard work, IQ, great memory), but by something much different. In his eyes, world class performance is achieved by deliberate practice. Sure, it doesn’t sound as glamorous as “I hired 20 child prodigies and built my company on their talents”, but it opens the door for any business to be successful from a performance perspective.
The key is to be willing to keep growing and changing as people, and as organizations. For example, Southwest has been a top performer in its vertical market for quite a while. However, it got there not just by the talent of its people, but by being very deliberately “out of the box.” Southwest isn’t a run-of-the mill airline; its people have led it out of the mainstream. People originally looked suspiciously at the Southwest model of air transport; now, they try to emulate the success.
With standards of human performance rising, any company’s people need to become world class performers to compete individually and within team environments. Smart employers will recognize this fact and lead them to their personal bests; in response, the employees will bring the employer to greater levels of performance.
Whether or not you believe in this approach to talent versus performance, it has to make you rethink the way you have set up your own business model. One of the most effective ways to facilitate “deliberate performance” is to provide frequent, constructive feedback. In fact one of the attendees I met at the event (Tim Baker) has software that helps you do just that. If you are looking for an easy way to give constructive feedback and performance coaching in a visual way, I recommend taking a closer look at an easy to use performance review & goal setting management system called Small Improvements. If your corporate performance is just ok, it’s time to rethink your approach to get from good to great.