If there was anything I could go back and do over in the last 10 years in leading it would be this:
Believe less in talented people.
Hear me out. Talent is a good thing. Talent is an intangible quality that can be very helpful to a team of people.
However, talent is rarely as good as we make it out to be. Or maybe I should say this, talent rarely brings our team the return we thought it would. Talent often disappoints and talent usually has an excuse when we put people in leadership positions too soon.
It's natural for us to want to direct people to the places we see them talented in. But the flip side to talent is how it's used to compensate for other short comings. Sometimes we push people so far towards their talents we enable them to be anything but whole people. Talent is occasionally a cover up.
How many comedians eventually share they use humor to cover up hurt and shame?
How many athletes later reveal their obsession with their physical talents was a way to avoid with loss in their life or the emptiness they often experienced?
The most dangerous thing about talent is the ability to build one part of our lives so much we neglect the rest. We've all been in the gym and have seen the guy who has a massive upper body and their lower body is that of an average person. As leaders, we can build people and put trust in people who have developed themselves the same way as people.
Should we ignore talented people? Of course not. However, I think we should ask ourselves the following questions when we lead highly talented people:
1. Do I believe in this person's character as much as their talent?
2. Am I giving authority to someone based on their level of talent or their level of commitment?
3. Have I witnessed this talented person build up other people?
4. How does this talented person respond when someone exposes something they are weak at? Are they defensive or coachable?
5. Are they the same person when they are not doing something they are talented at?
6. Is there identity solely in their talent?
The goal, as leaders, should not be to help talented people be more talented. The goal should be to help people who show signs of talent become whole people, which make better leaders. So, when a very talented person joins your team instead of propelling them into leadership start guiding them to build their whole self as much as their talents. If you do this, everyone wins in the end.
What do you think? What has been your experience with talented people joining your team? Please leave your comments below!