When I was in grad school I was introduced to the book Linchpin by Seth Godin and thought that he provided some sound advice. Of course as a graduate student I was obsessed with the idea that I should be viewed as indispensable in the workplace because I was fully aware that I would be entering into a world in a matter of months that would require that I “show an prove”. However, that quickly changed when I became an executive at a non-profit. I was only two weeks into my job before I began receiving resumes from a great pool of talent. I spent days reviewing application responses, searching LinkedIn, and connecting with talent recruiters on the quest to build my team from the ground up.
The first few interviews went well as I quickly identified skill sets that perfectly aligned with what I knew I needed. I had a very clear vision in mind. As I was preparing to make final hiring decisions, I knew that I had to consider more than the bullets within the job description, but who I needed to be on my team three to five years down the line. Who would become my indispensable talent? A few years into having a rock star team it dawned on me that indispensable may not have been attributed to what we wanted to be true of how an individual performed their day-to-day tasks (even if Seth was actually saying this), rather it is their ability to perform their role, coach others, climb new heights, and even advance into other roles along the way. How we define “talent” has become so limited to one individual and their ability to deliver results on a laundry list of responsibilities.
What I believe is that talent is defined by an individual’s ability to rise to the occasion every single time and embrace both failures and successes with grace. It is the ability for that person to not just excel in their core functions but to guide others to do the same. It is the ability for a manager to be able to look on their own roster and find their next hire, their next promotion, and even their successor. A key part of being a strong leader is building and developing a team of other strong leaders. Maybe Seth got it right or maybe he got it wrong. Who knows. What I do know is that hiring 100 men (or women) to do the work of 100 men (or women) beats the heck out of doing it yourself. Don’t you agree?
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