In order for talent to be managed, it first needs to be spotted. In the first of a 3-part series, Sarah Babb looks at how businesses can begin to identify the talent they need.

Albert Einstein once said “I have no particular talent. I am merely inquisitive”. Despite claiming to have no talent, he went on to win the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921, and developed numerous groundbreaking theories of relativity.

In this issue, the focus is on how to spot a talented individual in your business, even if they do not portray themselves as a potential candidate for your talent pool.

Talent is said to rely on both the individual ability and drive, as well as on the context – determining what opportunities are emerging, and which should be taken. Many key leaders have succeeded in seemingly ‘unfriendly’ environments, and many have failed in seemingly receptive environments.
A business should therefore strive to create opportunities for the individual to perform, and to identify potential talent for future growth. To some extent, what will detract from the individuals “shining” are the team and the immediate manager. It is commonly stated that when a person resigns, they do not leave the business, but rather their manager. So there is a dynamic interplay between the organisation, team and individual forces.

The interplay of factors influencing talent
In order for talent to be recognised, it must be realised. Dormant talent or latent ability cannot be said to be talent as it has not realised value in the person’s life, or for the context in which it resides. Talent is an ability which is applied. Certainly talent within a business context relates to a person applying their talent consistently, to add value to the business.

How magical it is when a team comes together, when a person is at peak performance. Businesses need to create the environment for talent to perform, but also support the individual to reach their full potential. But how does a business articulate what talent it requires?

Defining talent needs
Talent needs must be defined and pools of talent identified across all levels. Each business requires specific capabilities, in a certain context and time in its evolution. A business which is expanding globally requires leaders with a pioneering spirit. Businesses which are consolidating or cutting back on costs require leaders who can manage processes and operations tightly. These are fundamentally different capabilities of leaders. In the workforce, the business will require specific talent, including technical, discipline-specific and values-based behaviours. The talent requirements for leaders, as well as for general functional talent pools, must be articulated and shared.

Look out for Part II of this article next week.

This article was published on Women Inc, the complete resource for the working woman. Women Inc offers articles on entrepreneurship, management, personal effectiveness and issues beyond the workplace (

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