Posts Tagged ‘Organizational Development’

Are you a Talent?

Feb 11, 2011 // 1 Comment » // HR Insights

Are you a talent that others think you are?

For many years in my adult life, I vaguely remembered that I ever scored a spectacular goal from the half-way line in a game of football (soccer in some parts of the world) at a primary school competition. I remembered the euphoria of my team-mates running towards me to celebrate on a rain soaked pitch at the now defunct Mountbatten Primary School; the team went on to win the competition that year.

As I grew older, that memory faded and reach a point that I begin to suspect it was all but a dream…until more than 30 years later I met an old primary school classmate in an army-reserve unit gathering.

“Hey, are you from Mountbatten Primary?”

“Yes, and you are…? Sorry, I cannot recall who you are…”

“I am Peter. I don’t think you can recognize me but you seems to retain your features quite a bit…!”

“Oh…I do?! I will take that as a compliment…”

“And of course I will always remember the goal that you scored from the half-way line…it was one of the highlights of that competition…”

“OMG, thank you for confirming that dream of mine that was with me for the longest time…I keep having this image in my head but wasn’t sure I actually did that…!! If not for this chance meeting and you telling me that…!”

“Of course you did…it was one of the highlight of our cohort and you were quite famous after that…! How are you? Did you went on to have a career in football?”

“Ummm… me, football…I wish…!”

For the record, football takes precedents in the second-half of my teenage years that not only ruined my education somehow but also both my knees that requires major surgery. At best I went on to represent school at various level but has never go beyond that. It’s only in my young adult years when I discover why my so call “talent” was not fully developed. It was from a quote that I learnt from probably the greatest football player – Pele and he says:

“To be a great soccer player; you must first be a great athlete.”

How I wish I have heeded his advice in my formative years…

But when I take a step back and think deeper, I would say that the environment of the 70s and 80s that I was brought up with wasn’t the best for sporting athletes. At that time, Singapore was in a state of industrialization and most national initiatives such as educational and manpower policy are towards creating jobs and preparing the people to be as employable as possible in the marketplace. Therefore many others including me would not have a conducive environment to develop sportingly.

What is my point?

I sometime find it quite amusing when academics and management gurus keep telling the world that there’s a drought of talent out there in the marketplace, that organizations in this competitive world face a war for talent so on and so forth…Have we ever ask ourselves what do we do when we “recruited” the talents into our organization? Have we put in place an environment that the so-call talent will thrives and excel? What is our definition of talent? Are there really such thing as “ready-made” talent out there that when engaged will perform to what’s expected of them?

My recent role in Learning and Development enable me to confront this questions directly and work closely with a team of talent management professionals. I am glad that my business partner have similar view on talent management and we intended to drive the initiatives of human resources towards a holistic approach starting from the “WHY” we recruit to the “WHY” they leave the organization. We may not be sure that all that arrived at our door would consider as “ready-made” talents but we aspire to ensure that most leave our door would consider to be some talent in their own rights.

What do you think?

I would like to hear your view or your definition of talent.

Be inclusive in your talent strategy.

Mar 17, 2010 // 2 Comments » // Leadership Infusion

Picture source: Vestaligo via Flickr

Picture source: Vestaligo via Flickr

A matryoshka doll, also known as a Russian nested doll or a babushka doll, is a set of dolls of decreasing sizes placed one inside the other. The word “matryoshka” is derived from the Russian female first name “Matryona”. The word “babushka”  is the Russian word for grandmother.

Some years ago, I chanced upon one set of such dolls in a gift shop and was intrigued by the concept behind the design. I did some research and found that during Perestroika (Russian term for political and economical reforms introduced by Mikhail Gorbachev), the leaders of the Soviet Union became a common theme depicted on matryoshkas. Starting with the largest, Mikhail Gorbachev, then Leonid Brezhnev (Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko almost never appear due to the short length of their respective terms), then Nikita Khrushchev, Josef Stalin and finally the smallest, Vladimir Lenin. Newer versions start with Dmitry Medvedev and then follow with Vladimir Putin, Boris Yeltsin, Mikhail Gorbachev, Joseph Stalin and then Vladimir Lenin.

One story goes about how a chairman of a global firm called for a board meeting one day. At the boardroom table,  at the front of each boardroom members he placed a similar matryoshka doll. The chairman said: “Lift it up, its you inside…”. They went on to lift the doll one by one by opening up the top-half, for every bigger version they saw a smaller version and one after another it got smaller and smaller until revealing the smallest doll eventually. There’s a note at the end with the smallest doll that says: ” If you are conscientiously hiring people that are ‘smaller’ or less capable than you, someday we will become a midget organization. In contrast, if we put in effort in hiring talents that are ‘bigger’ or more capable and talented than us, we will be building giants for the future.”

Two years ago, I wrote in an in-house HR newsletter how we can learn from the matryoshka doll about leadership. Leaders in organization should embrace talents that are ‘bigger’ and more capable than oneself, so that you can help build an organisation of giants.

Are your next level managers hold the same hiring ideology? Are you decreasing so others may increase? Do you have your ‘generals’ in your organisation that are afraid of ‘decreasing‘ so others might ‘increase’?

At ConversationCircles, we can help you to infuse leadership concept and ideology in a way that is inclusive and embracing. Talk to me today at +65-96559409 or email at