The talent shortage is real and many companies are struggling to fill their most important vacancies, which means they are struggling to grow, perform and innovate. Yet other companies seem to have their inboxes filled with talent speculatively sending their CV’s.
What is it that talent magnets do that makes them stand out?
1. Optimise talent.
Talent magnets attract the best talent because once they have them in their teams, they fully utilise them. The talent maybe a little rough around the edges and may have a bit to learn, but that doesn’t stop a magnet from empowering them and giving them roles to grow into. On the reverse, empire builders use the talent to deliver tasks or functions, but maintain the control and make all of the decisions. Empire builders don’t share their people’s talent across the business, holding them close and literally keeping them small. Magnets recognise the strengths and skills of their talent and fully utilise them for the good of the business.
2. Create an environment for genius thinking
Talent magnets are excited by new ideas and are always curious to hear other people’s ideas and points of view. It stimulates their own best thinking and thus creates an upwards spiral of thought leadership and creativity. When a leader creates a trusted environment where everyone can weigh in, solve problems or innovate, without fear of judgement or shame, talent literally light up. Talent suppressors push down ideas, often speaking first and dominating the conversation. They are addicted to being right and love the quick rush of fixing issues. But eventually people simply give up and stop thinking, everyone levels down and then the leader wonders why everyone isn’t as brilliant as they are. The suppressing leader stagnates talent until they stop trying or move on.
3. Challenger vs challenging
The talent magnet is confident and comfortable enough to set their people challenges and then get out of the way. They don’t feel the need to helicopter over every meeting or check in on every piece of work. They allow people to spread their wings and fly. They challenge and stretch their people, empowering them to believe in themselves, and inspiring them to push beyond. It’s not an easy environment, as challengers expect best efforts, but it sure is fun.
Challenging leaders challenge everything. They question logic, details, processes, rationale. Their intentions maybe good and but the impact creates defensiveness and lack of trust. Some leaders are more sceptical and questioning by nature, but a challenger leader questions to excite and push boundaries, a challenging leader questions to remain dominant and knowledgeable.
4. Healthy conflict
A talent magnet loves to generate debate and healthy conflict in the pursuit of truth and best thinking. They encourage everyone to weigh in with their ideas and perspectives, promoting trust, openness and broadening the conversation. They may delegate decisions, or hold on to that responsibility, but the process of decision making is fun, vibrant, engaging and thorough. Involving talent in the debate forwards their learning and development, and everyone in the room grows.
Unhealthy conflict usually shows up with lack of debate. Yes there maybe some challenge, but it normally presents within a small trusted clique, an inner circle of people, often the more vocal. Meetings are generally boring, excluding others or limiting others views. Although someone in the room may have the best solution, they often hold back and without for fear of rejection, or complete apathy.
5. Empowering personal responsibility
Talent magnets take personal responsibility over their actions and behaviours, and for the team or business results. However they also pass on full responsibility to others too own their own performance. They aren’t afraid to call people on their commitments and hold people accountable for their own outcomes.
The reverse is blame, criticism and judgement. Leaders that deploy these tactics aren’t developing talent, they are suppressing it and promote excuses rather than accountability.
Or they may never tackle poor performance or lack of commitment, they sweep it under the carpet or hope that it goes away. This in turn leads to mediocrity as the ambitious talent become frustrated with others clear lack of accountability. Not calling others out for not living up to their commitments breeds stagnation and lethargy into a culture.
So leaders I ask you…
Even if you know the answer to the problem. Even if you can do it quicker yourself. Even if you don’t have time to debate every time, do it anyway. Your short term pain really will have long term gain as you no longer need to go hunting for talent, you develop it, and the get the reputation of a talent developer, which in turns makes you into a talent magnet.