Published on December 19, 2013
Leading Top Talent Olivier Serrat 2013 The views expressed in this presentation are the views of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Asian Development Bank, or its Board of Governors, or the governments they represent. ADB does not guarantee the accuracy of the data included in this presentation and accepts no responsibility for any consequence of their use. The countries listed in this presentation do not imply any view on ADB's part as to sovereignty or independent status or necessarily conform to ADB's terminology.
The Best at Something These days, it is no longer enough to be good at a number of things: one must be the best at something. And so, it is time to make the most of those who, typically with creativity and innovation, do the work that matters most. Talent is a marked innate ability, aptitude, or faculty for achievement. Since there are many possible productive applications, organizations should formulate their own definitions of what talent and talent management are. On the other hand, top talent begs no interpretation (even if it cannot be perfectly identified): it is the natural hallmark of the "clevers" whose recurring individuality infuses performance with a distinctive (and not infrequently disruptive) dimension.
The Need for Top Talent If intellectual capital drives today's knowledge economies, this brings with it an increased dependence on the highly talented people who generate it. Top talent is those individuals who have the potential to create and deliver disproportionate amounts of value from the resources made available to them and are therefore of most value to an organization.
The Work of Top Talent Top talent does not just happen. From a combination of genes and physical and social development, top performers come into being because they: • Study and understand what their talents are, this being distinct from what they can learn. • Make resolutions and set goals to strengthen themselves. • Implement talent development projects and mark out daily, weekly, and monthly indicators of progress. • Re-strategize based on emergent learning. • Take time to salute their own efforts, steps, and attainments.
The Quirks of Top Talent Top talent think that the leaders of an organization are beholden to them, not the other way around. Top talent has loyalties to other institutions. This gives it a sense of independence. Top talent sees itself as a leader: it wants to be treated as such. Because of its special value to the organization, top talent usually feels entitled to privileges.
Leading Clever People How can you lead people who know their worth, are organizationally savvy, ignore corporate hierarchy, expect instant access, are well connected, have a low boredom threshold, and most likely will not thank you?
Leading Clever People Of course, one cannot lead top talent hands on. But one can be a guiding force that provides sociability, infrastructure, credibility, resources, and rewards. One should assign real-world challenges with constraints, talk straight, describe what but not how, make time for questioning, give means and space, encourage failure to maximize learning, protect "clevers" from the rain, offer recognition and amplify achievements, and recruit more talent. If, some will say, this could apply to any segment of personnel, the fact that it still does not underscores how far we have to go before we can really talk about learning organizations.
Further Reading • ADB. 2009. Harnessing Creativity and Innovation in the Workplace. Manila. Available: www.adb.org/publications/harnessing-creativity-andinnovation-workplace • ADB. 2010. A Primer on Talent Management. Manila. Available: www.adb.org/publications/primer-talentmanagement • ADB. 2010. Sparking Innovations in Management. Manila. Available: www.adb.org/publications/sparking-innovationsmanagement • ADB. 2010. Leading Top Talent in the Workplace. Manila. Available: www.adb.org/publications/leading-top-talentworkplace
Olivier Serrat Principal Knowledge Management Specialist Regional and Sustainable Development Department Asian Development Bank firstname.lastname@example.org www.adb.org/knowledge-management www.facebook.com/adbknowledgesolutions www.scribd.com/knowledge_solutions www.twitter.com/adbknowledge
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