Develop Strengths from your Talents

While doing the research for my last post ‘What is Talent’ I came along this quote:

“Most people think they know what they are good at. They are usually wrong … And yet, a person can perform only from strength.” (Peter Drucker, 1909-2005).

This quote made me pretty curious, as I believe that most people aren’t aware of their strengths. Most people probably know what their weaknesses are but not really where they are good. I found a book called ‘Strengths Finder 2.0’ by Tom Rath (Webpage Strenghts Finder), which supports my hypothesis that most people rather than playing to their strengths try to improve their weaknesses. This coping mechanism can be very time-consuming and intense. Strengths Finder shall help people to get to know their talents and develop strengths out of this awareness. To focus on things you like and enjoy doing rather than to work even harder on the aspects you simple don’t like and aren’t good at seems like a nice and simplified alternative to me.

The book claims an easy structure where Talent multiplied with Investment leads to Strength.

Talent is hereby defined as ‘the natural way of thinking, feeling or behaving’.

Investment is defined as ‘time spent practicing, developing your skills, and building your knowledge base’

Strengths is ‘the ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance’

Many companies wondering how to engage their employees but how many of these companies really DO a talent or strengths assessment and place their employees into positions where they actually fit in? Especially in sales roles this might simplify everybody’s job so much! Not every top seller is by definition a good leader. So why are still companies promoting people into manager positions who did a great sales job?

  1. These people will probably no longer bring the return they did when they were in an operating sales role
  2. These people ‘waste’ their time by trying to show their employees how to do it right – but have probably not even received a training and maybe absolutely no talent in leading and inspiring people

I don’t want to say that weaknesses are not important or should be ignored – the opposite is the truth. I believe it is truly important to know what are you good at and what not. For entrepreneurs apply the principle to know your strengths as well as your weaknesses to successfully buy-in people who accomplish your weaknesses with their strengths.

By the way I used the Strengths Finder 2.0 myself and it’s a really nice way to get to know yourself a little bit better and the derived action plan for developing your talents into strengths is a good toolkit.


What is Talent?

Well, here we go. My first blog post! Whoop whoop.

Probably since McKinsey consultants introduced  the term ‘The War for Talent’ in 1997 most people understood that ‘Talent’ is considered to be something awesome. Especially companies and HR within them are keen to find the best talents on the market and to win them. Fair enough! But what exactly is talent? Which talent do you need?

Fact is, there is until now, year 2015 – 18 years later – NO universal established definition of talent. Wikipedia for example states ‘Talent means the skill that someone has quite naturally to do something that is hard’.  Innovation Excellence defines talent as something we cannot acquire and ‘we cannot learn to be talented’.  Business Dictionary gives two definitions for talent. ‘1. A natural ability to excel at a duty or an action’ and ‘2. A group of people, such as employees, who have a particular aptitude for certain tasks’. OK so this means in those context we assume that talent is something we cannot develop but which is naturally given.

So, this would mean talent is given and as a HR person you would need to find that person with the talent that you need for your special task to be fulfilled. Sounds pretty challenging. And would the talented person even know that he or she is talented? Would a natural talent always beat hard work?

I’m not too sure with all these definitions. Shouldn’t we more think about

  1. Is the talent a ‘raw’ talent or has the person already taken any action to build on his or her talent to grow and strengthen it?
  2. What if a naturally talented person is lazy? Would a less talented person but with a high strive to perform be a better alternative?
  3. Are we really searching for talent or are we searching for potential?

Whatever talent might be I guess we should take into account that our world is changing constantly and we should be forearmed for future challenges. And without any doubt is our workforce the most important asset and value of each company.

I hope this may be some good food for thought. I am keen to hear your view!