One of the best things that can happen to a manager is having the opportunity to hire someone smarter, more talented and more accomplished than you.
Now, why does managing talented people seem so terrifying?
Successful leaders know – or should know – that hiring talented people is like winning the lottery. You gain an employee whose abilities could be that proverbial high tide, raising all boats, including yours.
What could possibly be wrong with that?
It Takes A Wise Manager To Handle Talented People
Since the best organizations are driven by great ideas and know how, having great talent is a must.
But attracting talented people is only half the battle. Properly managing them matters most.
Which is where the wise manager comes in.
How in the world do you even evaluate someone who is more talented than you?
According to LinkedIn-influencer-extraordinaire Jack Welch, you don’t.
“That is, you don’t evaluate them on their intelligence or particular skill set,” Welch said. “Of course, you talk about what they are doing well. But just as important, you focus on areas in which they can improve.”
If that sounds a bit like playing to their strengths and helping them find the best paths, then please move to the front of the class.
It’s great how these management fundamentals stand the test of time, isn’t it?
Ya Gotta Coach ‘Em Up
It’s also important, Welch says, to be protective of your top talent.
“It is no secret that some very smart people have trouble, for instance, relating to colleagues or being open to other people’s ideas,” he wrote. “Indeed, some struggle with becoming leaders themselves. And that is where your experience, self-confidence, and coaching come into play.”
Some management gurus tend to teach that this “talent mind-set” has become the new standard in management only in the past decade or so. But it is likely been around since the ancient Egyptians conceived the pyramids.
Which means it is not likely going anywhere anytime soon.
Much like an astronomer views the age and strength of a galaxy by it’s illuminations, so too are organizations viewed to be as only as vital as their stars.
Defining Characteristics Of Talented People
For wise managers intent on hiring and nurturing top talent, here are four defining characteristics of the truly gifted.
1) Don’t See Themselves As Needing To Be Led
They are independent, mobile and capable. They are the rats who can swim, but they don’t wait around for the leak to start. They also don’t wait around for their pensions to mature, or for someone to give them the nod to excel. They know their value, and they expect their leadership to know it, too.
2) Hate Hierarchy
Or at least have a limited respect for it. They already have a dozen or so extracurricular-work activities and they know how organizations function or – fail to. You won’t hold onto them with fancy job titles or toothless promotions.
3) Recognize Insincerity
So a straight-forward dialogue is a must. For some employees, any old pat on the back can keep them going for weeks. Talented people won’t even bother to roll their eyes when they sense they are the target of foolhardy deceptions.
4) Can Move From Thought To Action
And therein is the difference between smart people, and truly talented ones. Talented people get the whole E=mc2 thing. Then, they take it from there and put it into play.
Remember: Hiring smart people makes you look smart. Managing talented people takes wisdom. The more the merrier, so let the stars shine.