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What do you have talent for?

What if it turned out that the thing you thought was your talent actually wasn’t? If it turned out that your real talent doesn’t actually start with you but is instead based on something completely different?

This article gives you an insight into what talent is, how you find it, and not least how you can bring it into play.

If you expect to get easy answers about what talent is, then you shouldn’t read on, since the definition of your talent and working with it will require something extra of you. There are no shortcuts or magic pills.

You have to take the stairs all the way from the bottom to the top. One step at a time, since the escalator for becoming really good at something and making a crucial difference doesn’t exist. This means that talent development is not for the lazy or those who lack commitment. It’s for you who get involved, create significant results together with others and who has a clear idea about what kind of differences you want to contribute to.

The first thing you have to recognize is that the company you are a part of is not here to develop your talent. It’s not the company’s primary task and it’s not what your customers are asking for, which means that your talent, first and fore- most, must be understood and defined based on what the company needs. This doesn’t mean that the development of your talent is not important, because it is.

Talent development is a crucial requirement for most companies in realizing its purpose, since this doesn’t happen without ambitious and good people. In this way, the development of your talent becomes one (of many) ways of realizing the company’s end game and making it an interesting place to be. The task is therefore to find the valuable intersections between what the company needs and what you are enthusiastic about and good at are.

It will therefore be your task (for example, together with your leader) to investigate the following questions in the initial exploration of your talent:

  • What is the end game of our company and what fundamental impact are we trying to create?
  • What is your objective for being in the company and where are there valuable connections to the company’s objectives?
  • What is it that our stakeholder find truly valuable?
  • How does what you are really interested in and are professionally very good at match what the company needs in the short and long run?
  • What do you have the potential to do really well that will create strategic value at the same time as developing and engaging you?

As you can see, an essential requirement of your talent is that you understand your company’s purpose and strategy in depth. That you carefully study the choices that are associated with the purpose and strategy. The consequences the strategy prepares the ground for, the behavior that best supports it as well as the customers’ needs that you try to meet. If you do, then you can already make a decisive difference, since a lot of people in companies (surprisingly enough) don’t do this exercise. They simply don’t have a deep understanding of the company’s purpose and strategic direction, which makes it difficult to create the desired value and build their talent.

The vast majority of people would probably like to be useful in things they deal with. The challenge can be if it becomes more a solo project and only about you as an individual, that can lead to a lack of connection or clarity between what the company is trying to do and what you are trying to accomplish. It is not enough to have people who individually succeed for themselves. It will not lead to the larger impact defined in the company purpose and it is also a bad idea related to the individual, because nobody is better than everybody and you need other people to develop and grow.

Therefore, you are facing a choice:

Do you want to be individually successful or useful?

It is not like one is more right, than the other, but there is a big difference between the impact and the difference you can make depending on your answer. If you pursue the individual path, it is about you. Your ambitions, your success, your achievements and your recognition when you succeed. This approach will get you going and you will gain personal satisfaction which is very important and needed for all of us.

On the other hand, if you expand your awareness and include a wider scope, now your objectives will also be beyond your own personal gains. You will need to create results with others, you will share successes and presumably achieve another level than you could have done on your own. In addition, you will also have the opportunity to use your talent to help others develop their talent. Are you interested in that?

The recommendation here is that you should go after being useful if you want your talents to be seen and developed in your company. Aside from being able to do much more with other talented people than you can do alone, you also get the bonus that it will be personally very rewarding. As part of the deal, you also get the individual part when you choose to be organizationally useful.

As mentioned, the definition of talent should be based on the balance between what is strategically useful – and your individual abilities and engagement. This means that your company’s definition of talent is adjusted when the strategy changes.

Your talent is found in the intersection between the end game of the company and the end game of you as an person

Talent is therefore not a fixed concept but rather something that evolves as the company evolves over time. In the definition of your talent, you can start by examining the following three elements:

  1. The professional and personal abilities you possess that are important to the company’s current and future needs. Often this is about abilities to handle increasing complexity, abilities to adapt new knowledge and constructively bring it into play, abilities to create results and relationships with other people as well as abilities of a specialized nature that support customers’ needs and the solutions the company offers them. Looking at the purpose and strategy of your company – what strategic abilities are most important?
  2. The commitment you have and your objective for working in the company. Here, it is, among other things, about the connection between what the company is here to do and the commitment you have in exactly this. What is the connection between what you’re passionate about and what your company and customers need?
  3. Your aspiration and ambition to increase your influence and make a greater difference than you already do. Here, we are talking about your aspirations and ambitions, and not the expectations others may have of you. In the beginning, it can be difficult to distinguish between the two things, but it is crucial that you first realize what you want with your career, otherwise you can easily pursue other people’s ways instead of your own.

Talent is something you do

Some of what distinguishes talented people is their ability and willingness to make things happen. This means that talent is largely connected to what you do and to a lesser extent defined by who you are. The talent and value of that talent lies primarily in your actions and the way you create value – not just on your own – but also together with other people. You are not only capable of identifying areas where additional value can be created but you can also contribute to something being done about it. A true talent is playing for the logo – not just the ego.

Your actions don’t come out of the blue but are instead based on other things. It is, among other things, the way you think – or, to put it in a different way, your mindset.

Broadly speaking, mindset can be divided into two categories: A fixed and a growth mindset.

When you are in the fixed mindset, the following applies:

  • You see your abilities and talents as determined and that these can make the difference without any significant effort.
  • By mapping your current level, you can predict how you will manage in the future.
  • You primarily define success as solving your tasks correctly.
  • You are most interested in feedback that confirms your current abilities and less interested in feedback that can expand your knowledge and abilities.

In the growth mindset, the following is more dominant:

  • You don’t see your abilities and talents as static, but that you can develop yourself through dedication and effort. You think your potential should have time to unfold and cannot be determined in advance. When you make an extra effort, the potential you have will be seen.
  • You think your potential should have time to unfold and cannot be determined in advance. When you make an extra effort, the potential you have will be seen.
  • You primarily define success as surpassing what you could previously do.
  • You are most interested in feedback that can move you to a new level and teach you new and valuable things.

Over time, we all find ourselves in both mindsets. The point is that you must be able to identify when you are in which mindset, why it happens and how to get more into the growth mindset, since this is where the development of your talent happens.

In conclusion, spend more time on tasks and situations where you don’t know in advance if you are successful or not and enjoy the journey. Most people won’t be willing to do this, so you have the advantage of getting more experience and learning that you can build on.

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