Secretly, each person knows that they are a multi-talented, multi-layered being, with depths of sensitivity, awareness and comprehension, creativity and capabilities that few others have seen or comprehend. Even themselves – they are rarely aware which specific talents and skills lie dormant in them – untapped and un-released.

So often, these talents are rarely taken into account by the boss who is managing them. It’s as if leaders and managers get so wrapped up in what needs doing – the project, the task, the reaction that needs to take place, that they forget, ignore or go blank to the idea that the people who work for them are intelligent, competent and capable of thinking for themselves; and able to resolve problems without direction or micro-management. Not only that, but that they have resources and talents that they can bring to bear that they have no idea about. And that if you try and narrow them down to doing something in the way you want it done, that you are restricting the expression of that person’s natural genius.

So how, as a leader or manager, do you get to see these talents and innate capabilities, recognise them and enable your people to express them – for the value of themselves and your business?

This is where HR and the Learning and Development experts can help. There are numerous talent assessment tools – my favourites are Talent Dynamics and Strengthsfinder – which very easily enable individuals to answer a set of questions and then get reports that highlight the range of skills and capabilities which come natural to them and areas of little or no strength.

The key is to see these as revelations of what to say ‘Yes’ to and what to say ‘No’ to in terms of showing the direction of what to focus on and do. Their manager can then look at the range of problems and challenges their business has and then stop and consider – “Which of my people have the innate skills, strengths and interests to take on this challenge and sort it for me?” This people-led problem solving approach, enables people to take on challenges that allow them to draw upon their innate intelligence and exercise and express their talents, in the service of the business.

Gone are the days when people were advised to undertake psychometric assessments so they can identify what their weaknesses were and therefore what they had to work on. The positive psychology movement has shown that that is a wrong strategy to pursue – a waste of time, energy and resource that will keep people in mediocrity and failing to succeed. Rather – identify the talents and strengths and grow them by using them, refining them and enhancing them. This is the way that natural genius can be released.

The world of work has fundamentally changed, with command-and-control leadership no longer able to ensure that people will respond. People “don’t want to do things because I said so; they want to do things because they want to do them.”  It’s a recognition that it is not just Gen Y employees who want the power to exercise their own abilities in progressing the organisation for whom they work – it is a larger and wider part of the work-force – the collective intelligence, if you like – that seeks to exercise its will.

I have been privileged to see this about each and every person I have coached. I have seen many facets of each person’s intelligence, their unique talents and strengths play out in the resolution of their issues and meeting the challenges of their role. I have witnessed the skills which they have brought out of their personal reservoirs and depth to deal with their challenging circumstances.

Every individual, however restricted or narrow in their role has talents awaiting exploration and release. Great leaders facilitate the identification of people’s natural talents, provide them the tools to understand and know more about themselves and give them opportunities to exercise and express those capabilities – thus unlocking their natural genius – for the benefit of the individual and for their organisation.


Penny Sophocleous

5 February 2018