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Strategies to develop your top talent

Archive for February, 2009

The network effect

One thing I’ve observed is that top talent tends to be active in networking.  Whether it is intentional and on-purpose or something that seems to naturally happen, leaders are active in forging and nurturing relationships in an ongoing way.  water-lilies1

If you are a general manager, company owner or executive, you of course need to be active in networking within your industry and in the larger community.  That is part of honing your own edge and staying sharp.  You also need to be aware of what your top talent is doing and how well connected they are.

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The mindset of a leader

I was looking through some notes in my personal development notebook today and I was transported back over ten years ago to an experience I had listening to a development program.

I was living in another town and very early in an entrepreneurial venture, which is another way of saying I didn’t have much money at the time.  I listened to a program by Earl Nightingale, a classic motivational speaker who had already passed away back in 1989.  The program was called Lead the Field lead_the_fieldand I can still remember being struck by Earl’s statement that the vast majority of people never dedicate themselves to excellence, to leading the field in their chosen endeavor.  Whether that be education, business or social service, most people start with dreams and ideals and then abandon the goal before realizing them.

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Poise under pressure

The aikido dojo I train in had a significant event over the weekend.  Five of our members took a test, and I was one of them.

legsinaikidoaction_byoldsargeI won’t go into all the background here about aikido (*see the footnote below if you’re interested).  Since we don’t have competitions or tournaments in aikido, testing (and the training that leads up to that) is one of the times when we are able to assess what we have learned and how much more there is to learn.  Besides demonstrating specific techniques that are called out early on, the last part of the test involves multiple attackers coming at you from all directions and you have to effectively deal with each attack without injuring yourself or anyone else.  It is a true test of poise under pressure.

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ruler_by_mauiinvermontPardon the somewhat philosophical title for this post.  But I do ask it with some earnestness.  I commented before about how “talent” is climbing up the list of important business issues that executives are paying attention to.  I also noted that CEO’s seem to have great difficulties explaining what they mean by talent.

Here’s why:  they lack data.  Hard measurements and operational data belong to the CFO and the production side of the business.  When it comes to talent, we can’t agree on what we’re talking about because we simply cannot measure it.  The truth is we can, but most people don’t know how. 

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