Talent doesn’t exist

Attractivity, development, acceleration, engagement of talents are dense activities for the people in charge of human development. From school relations to leadership development program management, I have tried to understand what talent is. According to the schools of thought and the years, the definition did not cease evolving with the trends and seasons. Sometimes elitist, trying to reproduce a system of Grandes Ecoles in the strata of the company, occasionally democratic, trying to recognise the talent of each one. Many have tried to define the contours and modalities to reveal the best potential in organisations. Thus identified, motivated and conditioned some have access to solutions to make their talent grow. What happens if the potential does not turn into performance? 

Some would say that I am just repeating Jacques Brel’s words, just as I am more and more convinced that talent does not exist.

Let us all be comfortable, talent is only a shortcut, the difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary happens to be the combination of three principles :

  1. the rage to live
  2. the ability to bring together
  3. the capacity to build a sustainable profit

1° The rage to live

Extraordinary people do not distinguish by a remarkable ability to work hard, but by insatiable energy, which takes the form of a quest towards the impossible, a creative source. This is a false friend of survival instinct.

The rage to live, because the individual is not satisfied with the current condition, he is ready to take certain risks to propose a new version, another approach, a different concept.

This energy is not discreet, it disturbs… This is how it creates its mark, and it begins to echo, sometimes it passes for originality, it can distract the established order. It creates interest because it highlights the deficiencies, the limits, it attracts detractors and admirers, it takes the form of a weekend project, hours spent remaking the world and believing that you can change it, stressful presentations, refusals, conformist remarks such as “this is interesting, but not here“…

Many employees face resistance in companies. Driven by this rage to live, they develop resilience, perseverance, and they continue from failure to failure to propose another version of reality.

If you are looking for these people, listen to those who have too many ideas, who are marginal, who work on projects on their time… Yes, it requires more resources to accompany them, it is more complicated to say “Yes and” rather than “No“. In reality, what will make the difference is not the idea, but the sweat or in a more formal way: perseverance in execution. In other words, “the rage to live“.

2° The ability to bring together

The one who seems crazy because he dances alone becomes a leader from the moment he is followed by others enlightened. Followers, coaches, teams, sponsors, it is necessary to bring together various energies and interests to create a new version of reality.

Co-writing the future, sharing a vision, participating in a debate, facilitating collective intelligence when everyone is focusing on performance, this can pass for a waste of time. I have noted that profiles that can orchestrate collective dynamics on a small or large scale show discreet qualities. Humility, empathy and kindness are corollaries. There are those who make much noise to be heard, and there are those who question, listen, answer and click on “I like it“. You will not always find them with the microphone or raising their hand; they are the ones who, brick by brick, bring others together to share another vision, do it differently, create together.

By listening long enough, a few names of initiatives will appear and return to the four corners of the company, crossing sectors, ranks and cities. At the roots of these innovative practices, these minor projects, you will find passionate people who have the rage to live together.

093° The capacity to build sustainable profit

To identify a success, one of my mentors shared his key question: “Does this initiative allow this place to be in a better state than before?”

The final criterion for identifying an extraordinary person is the perspective from which they project their work, efforts and ambitions. The common denominator of the different initiatives is that the value proposition is sustainable. It survives its author, and mainly it benefits the collective. It is not a legacy, but a step that allows the organisation to become more efficient, more agile, and more effective.