IVP - Andy Unedited - Nothing Beats Talent

July 30, 2007

Nothing Beats Talent

As I wrote in a previous blog entry, First, Break All the Rules is the best management book I’ve read. One of most useful concepts that Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman offer is that of distinguishing talent (p. 71) from skill and knowledge (p. 83). Talent is “a recurring pattern of thought, feeling, or behavior that can be productively applied.” Talents are “the driving force behind an individual’s job performance.” They are “the four-lane highways in your mind.”

Speaking of four-lane highways, the authors mention that most truck drivers have an accident once every 125,000 miles. But some have one only every one or two or three million miles. Why? They have a talent for anticipating. They are constantly thinking, If that car has a flat, how should I react? What can I do now to put myself in the safest position before that would happen? That kind of pattern of thought or behavior is talent. And it cannot be taught.

Skills are the how-tos of a role and can be taught.
Knowledge is the “what you are aware of” and can be taught.
Talent cannot be taught.

The authors describe three kinds of talents (appendix C, pp. 251-52):
1. Striving talents explain what motivates a person.
2. Thinking talents explain how a person makes decisions.
3. Relating talents explain whom one trusts, ignores, confronts or builds relationships with.

A simple exercise for any manager is to take a category of employees (e.g., accountants, sales people, editors, warehouse personnel), identify the best employees in each category, and then ask what talents they have and what motivations they have. With that list of talents and motivations in hand, you now know what to look for when hiring new people for those jobs.

Conventional Wisdom: Managers should hire new employees based on experience.
Great Manager Wisdom: Managers should hire new employees based on the talents needed for the job and not simply on experience, intelligence or determination.

Posted by Andy Le Peau at July 30, 2007 9:04 AM Bookmark and Share

Comments are closed for this entry.

Get Email Updates

You'll get an email whenever a new entry is posted to Andy Unedited

Blog Favs

Subscribe to Feeds

Got a Book Idea?

Please follow our submissions guidelines. We cannot respond to book proposals or inquiries within the context of this blog.

Get to Know IVP

book cover"Some publishers tell you what to believe. Other publishers tell you what you already believe. But InterVarsity Press helps you believe," says J. I. Packer. Andy Le Peau and Linda Doll describe how this came to be a hallmark of InterVarsity Press in Heart. Soul. Mind. Strength, an anecdotal history spanning the sixty years from the founding of IVP in 1947 to the present day.