This pyramid of talent emergence exists in nearly every organization:
- Hiring talented new employees into the organization
- Helping employees who already work in the organization to become more talented
- Identifying how the organization is holding back talented employees from emerging naturally
Most efforts are dedicated to number one: it’s easy, it’s sexy, and there are open positions to be filled.
Number two receives attention, though talent development investment and program quality varies by organization. The best are very good, the rest seemingly are not.
Number three is nearly universally ignored.
What’s often missed in most conversations about “talent” is … how anyone becomes talented.
Talent isn’t something a person is born with. It’s a set of abilities developed by the individual through deliberate practice, experience, and learning. Another name for this process could be: work.
So organization systems, at a minimum, should not prevent an individual from developing their talent.
And at their best, organization systems should actually, truly, meaningfully support an employee’s talent development. Those organizations are rarer than we might like to believe.
But they’ve already flipped the pyramid.