We all have natural talents --those inherent capabilities that put us in "the zone" when it comes to performance. We talk about that phenomenon here frequently. These are the moments when everything seems easy. And the results are first-class.
It's also possible and desirable to learn new skills. But unless
they're directly related to our talents, we'll feel like we're actually working at something that's somehow, at some level, a mismatch.
Managerial Talent: The research
Research done by the IDAK Group shows that:
1. There are three distinct managerial talents.
2. No one in the studies has been found to possess more than one as a talent.
3. Thirty percent of respondents had a managerial talent. Yes, that
means that 70% did not have a natural talent for management.
The 3 talents defined: which one is yours?
The following are from the CareerMatch™ diagnostic tool:
-- Developing/Initiating. Successfully supervises others in
starting up new programs, new systems, branch offices, etc. Think
"start up" and getting things up and running. Then, likes to move on
when the new thing becomes institutionalized. People like to follow
because of the focused energy and enthusiasm this kind of manager
-- Planning. Successfully maps out long range details to reach
organizational goals. People follow this kind of manager because of the
sensibility and clarity of the plan.
-- Managing. Successfully supervising others in an established
organization, department, branch office, etc. This is the kind of
person who enjoys managing performance, getting one-on-one with
employees, and running an established system well. People follow the
dependability and even-handedness of many of these managers.
Hmm. Every executive/management want ad I've ever seen reads something like this:
"Initiates new programs and implements related changes;
responsible for strategic planning and industry-related trend analysis;
develops and coaches employees and provides appropriate, ongoing
Weighed against the research, these kinds of descriptions are setting unattainable expectations. If you have one of the talents you can develop skills in the others. But you need to know that they aren't
going to shine through the way your inherent talent will. And that means that
the performance expectations have to be discussed according to reality
and what's possible in each area. (It's also a great diagnostic to let you know the kinds of people with whom to surround yourself).
We've used the CareerMatch™ assessment tool for the past five years with mid-career managers. Three things usually happen:
1. They are relieved to gain a reality-based understanding of the
differences in their managerial performance by task. It delineates the
various talents that are too often lumped together in job descriptions
to try and describe one person--just like the typical ad.
2. Once organizations see a person's managerial talent strength, it
becomes more productive for purposes of accurate evaluation and talent
movement within the organization. For many it's the first time that
actual talents have been identified. (Management is just one area.
Communication, Relational, and Functional natural talents are also
3. Managers whose talents really lean toward "individual
contributor" are able to be matched with future positions that benefit
both them and the organization.
The lesson? Let's take what we know and use it to help
organizations, clients, and individual managers boost performance and
Photo Source: Indian Institute of Planning and Management