The Talent Delusion

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The Talent DelusionDo you drive a car? In which case tell me if you rate your driving skills as above average? If you answered yes to that question, then congratulations Matt about 90% of people who drive rate themselves in the top 10% of drivers. Statistically speaking that would be impossible. But that is exactly what the delusion of talent is all about.

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzik, the author of The Talent Delusion is a qualified psychologist who writes frequently on the subject of personality, assessment and how to identify top talent. The Talent Delusion explores to broad questions: what is talent and how do we measure it? It is only when we understand how to define and measure talent that we know how to develop it.

The Talent Delusion

People are not very good judges of their own talent. Without adequate self-awareness they land up making career choices that make it hard for them to succeed. The net result is that most people hate their jobs. Passive job seekers make up 75% of the full-time workforce. In the realm of romantic relationships, this would equate to 75% of married people being hopeful of finding a better spouse!!

Most talent management practitioners and decision makers in the space of talent rely too much on their intuition. They play it by ear. They think they know talent when they see it. Sounds familiar? Talent Management needs to be more data driven.

Defining Talent

The Talent DelusionHave you ever wondered how to define talent? In ancient times the word talent was referred to as a measure of silver that was paid in exchange of someone’s work. Better output by the person resulted in more payment – hence more “talent”.

We get fooled because we believe since we spend a lot of time with human beings we must be good at evaluating their talent and potential. There is a science of human behavior and a science to talent, just like there is science to astrophysics.

Not everyone is equally talented and rough measure is that the top 20% performers contribute 80% of the results of an organization. The next 30% contributes 10% to the total result; leaving the last 50% to contribute only 10%. Peak performance is a measure of ability while average performance is the result of motivation.

Talent is personality in the right place

The Talent DelusionMany outstanding people will not be top performers outside their own field of competence. Usain Bolt would not make a good accountant. Neither would Angela Merkel be a great stand up comedian even after putting in 10,000 hours of practice. A scientific assessment of talent helps to find the right job and organization for the person.

There are three components of talent: likeability, ability and willingness. Likeability is an umbrella term that includes the person’s ability to collaborate, go above and beyond, support organizational goals. High EQ people are rewarding to deal with. The sub-components of ability are expertise (ie job-related knowledge, experience and skills) and intelligence (ie learning ability and reasoning potential). Ambition, drive and conscientiousness refers to willingness. Being able to assess a person on these components can help an organization to decide if he or she is really the high potential person they should invest in.

The chapter on what the future of talent management looks like is fascinating. I totally loved that. But I won’t tell you what the conclusion was. For that you have to read the book.

Do you think likeability is what comes in the way of our evaluating talent? Do you believe ability alone is a good measure of talent and that willingness is a subjective measure. Love to hear your views. Do leave your views in the comments below.

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