Sought after they will always be, how to spot and nurture them organizations will have to see.
Talent who have the will and skill to augment business success is valuable. Megatrends of digital, data, diversity, and dynamics of geopolitics have made change more complex, chaotic, and challenging. In this state, businesses face challenges of surviving and pressures of excelling. They surely need talent who have the powers to innovate, the prowess to accelerate business performance, and the potential to realize strategy and maximize technology. Moving beyond fixed boundaries to merely optimize, organizations need talent who can grow and multiply manifold—those who have the power to be relevant and enable businesses to stay highly competitive, the hard skills to take advantage of what machines and bots offer, and the ‘human-centred’ skills to connect and lead people with purpose and passion. I call them “Super Talent” as they are a superb amalgamation of capabilities. A supply of super talent through both the make and buy routes is critical in accomplishing future agendas.
Defining Super Elements
Before acquiring them, we need to define the elements that super talent are made of. What is it that makes them outshine usual talent?
• Super talent rise above doing the repetitive and mundane activities which can be mimicked and even superseded by machines.
• They focus on the key and the crux, which are strategic and have high impact. Being high on humancentred skills, they can sense, feel and analyze events, people, and phenomena in incredibly sharp ways.
• They can fathom both reasons and emotions in the workplace.
• They can judge and decide on the current—and predict and comprehend future business trends using multiple data and pieces of evidence. I admire their competence and confidence to visualize and realize.
• When it comes to skills, they have both width and depth to use a range of technical and behavioural skills and have deep domain expertise in few. That makes them able and adept as Specialists with designing and consulting competencies. They also possess the power to don and transcend into Generalists when need be.
Super talent desire to work with organizations that are aligned with their career anchors and core values. They seek to find purpose and derive meaning in their jobs and organizations by contributing meaningfully and growing significantly.
Being Super Real
While being extremely astute at deriving the advantage of artificial, super talent are super real. With high humility quotients, they emerge as builders of intellectual, social, and financial capital. We can easily spot them in the way they observe and interact with others, and by how they pay attention to the world and people around them. Using both the head and heart, they engage in ‘super conversations’. They reflect mindfully, listen actively, and connect deeply. With high compassion and empathy, they inspire their teams to achieve sustained stellar performances. Value gets multiplied as they lift and lead not merely by adapting in existing spaces but imagining new ones. They epitomize trust and empowerment and are super role models.
Driving with Super Will
Super talent have a spirit and will that is indomitable. They have the grit to take actions and make things happen. We hear them say “Can Do It”. By stretching and striving, they achieve meta goals which may seem almost impossible to others. They are not reckless but fearless. Super talent welcome challenges and changes, take calculated risks and deal well with ambiguity and volatility. Seeking possibilities for growth, they tread unconventional routes. Unorthodox and original ideas and innovative solutions come from them. Businesses immensely benefit as the will of super talent manifests in high levels of energy to pursue and push daunting goals.
Scoring in the World of Machines
The unique mental makeup of super talent makes them valuable, inimitable, and rare. While machines are programmed to learn and execute commands, super talent have the passion and zeal to learn on the go, and visualize the big picture. Being high on fluidity and flexibility in their thinking patterns and delivery styles, they can contribute to unexplored shores. No matter how intelligent machines are, for leveraging them to add value in the changing context, we need the ingenuity of super talent. More than skills, they have the digital mindset to integrate and align with the artificial seamlessly. New business workflow and models aligned with dynamic customer aspirations can be met with their creativity and innovation.
Choosing Super talent
A systematic and strategic approach towards discerning super talent is critical. Following tools, if aptly used, can immensely help in making the right choice:
• A robust competency framework covering the behavioural domain and leadership competencies helps in selecting super talent.
• Nuanced proficiency indicators help in making reliable and valid decisions.
• An interview facilitated with the intent of learning more about the person than simply “judging” is key.
• Behavioural Event Interviewing and situational questions can reflect personality dimensions for the role and cultural fit with the organization.
• The recruiters are spoilt for choice with the plethora of psychometric tools for leadership assessment. Selection of the right assessment by not losing sight of the objective can help in gleaning pertinent leadership behaviour insights. They are especially useful for providing reflections on Emotional and Social Intelligence variables.
• Sometimes, organizations use a case study depicting real work scenarios and experiential exercises to gauge cognitive and even behavioural assumptions and inferences.
• Running a Development Centre (DC) through a battery of tests around a Story Board can particularly help in objectively assessing competencies of candidates to think, act, and engage with diverse stakeholders and contexts.
Talent Matters. But Super Talent Matters More.
Attracting Super Talent
The war for talent is real, and shortages for it is acute. Organizations therefore need to attract super talent in creative ways, keeping both the existing and potential employees in focus. The following tips and tricks could be helpful in this context:
• Being perceived and valued as an employer of choice offering promise of career is a catch. Super talent desire to work with organizations that are aligned with their career anchors and core values. They seek to find purpose and derive meaning in their jobs and organizations by contributing meaningfully and growing significantly. Authentic employer branding helps in providing a true narrative that helps talent to ascertain compatibility.
• Sequential interviews and multiple touchpoints in the selection process can help in unravelling layers about both the person and the organization. However, one thing to watch out could be that a multiple layered selection process runs the risk of super talent falling off in the middle of an elaborate, long-drawn hiring process.
• Connecting with candidates through respect and empathy can help form vital first impressions about the organization. Also, a good candidate experience could translate into an enriched experience of employee engagement later.
Growing Them to Get Them
Organizations that grow talent always find it easier to attract them. We need super talent not just in A-positions but across all organizational levels. Some ways could be:
• Progressive career pathing in both the ladder and lattice formats compel talent to see the promise of career growth.
• Variety in roles, challenging assignments, and structured mentoring helps to create optimism for the future of younger employees. Providing safety nets in the form of buddies can help senior laterals settle down in their new avatars.
• Investments that organizations make in deploying and developing talent through classroom interventions, e-learning, role rotations, and action learning projects play a profound role.
• An organizational pull can be created through learning culture based on a growth mindset aimed at sharpening digital fluency and honing cutting-edge skills.
• Designing growth roles, creating empowering workplaces, and providing enriched employee experiences that are ‘super’ can help in getting and growing super talent.
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