In our final discussion of 2018, we’re talking about raw talent development with Gravitas Impact premium coach Will Ditzler. Aside from being a part of our incredible coaching community, Ditzler is also the president of River Birch Executive Advisors in Indiana. Ditzler passed along some excellent advice on this topic that’s sure to be useful to both leaders and coaches. Read on to see what he had to say!

Raw Talent vs. Experience

When it comes to hiring, which is better: the applicant with the raw, natural talent or the one with experience? This is a question that industry executives and thought leaders have been debating for years – one that has become more prominent as technology continues to advance and alter the market landscape.

“I think it somewhat depends on the position,” Ditzler said, “but if I had to choose one, I would take raw talent.”

Based on his time as both a CEO and a coach, Ditzler says that those who are naturally wired for high performance often learn quickly and adapt to change – traits that have become invaluable in the dynamic business world of today. Qualifications and skills expire faster than they once did, education can’t always keep up with current demands, and experience can render a person more static than flexible.

“You could have someone with the education or experience that is not going to perform at a high level because of factors outside of experience,” Ditzler said. “Much of the time, those other factors have to do with self-awareness, humility, and other things we would lump into the term emotional intelligence.”

Ditzler is certainly not the first to take note of this. In 2017, CIO.com put it into rather blunt terms, stating:

“When the proverbial s*** hits the fan and you find yourself in a high-pressure situation, it is often those with natural talent who prevail. Drawing from their inner fight or flight response, they have made it to where they are in life now because they knew how to adapt and survive.”

Of course, this isn’t a hard and fast rule, and Ditzler is quick to point out that each situation is different.

“People are complex and so there are many factors: raw talent, intelligence, emotional intelligence, maturity, experience, etc.,” he said. “Someone could have raw talent but be in the wrong industry or maybe they are not a core-values fit.”

Forming Talent Towards Your Goals

Hiring raw talent is a lot like mining for gold. Both are intrinsically valuable, but none are particularly useful until they’ve been formed into something else. Gold nuggets must be fashioned into rings, chains, and trophies. Likewise, raw talent must be formed in a way that fits the business’ brand and goals. In order to do this effectively, Ditzler says that people first need to be placed into roles that utilize their natural strengths. From there, it comes down to shortening the learning curve.

“You could say the same thing about coaching and when a new coach is being certified,” he said. “The solutions are the same as the ones we apply in our coaching community: mentoring, reading, face-to-face learning, and getting some ‘at bats’ as we say.” 

Ditzler also offers a checklist of questions that should be considered in the event that the new hire struggles to form their talent in an effective manner. He advises leaders to involve the employee directly in the assessment and solutions while considering other variables that could disrupt the training process:

  • Are they really in the right position in the first place?
  • Do they have the right mentoring, support, and training?
  • Are others on the team a part of the dynamic?
  • Do they have a clear understanding of their key accountabilities and KPIs?
  • Are the expectations in terms of time to excel reasonable?

That said, not every hire is going to be a perfect fit, regardless of how much talent they may possess. So it’s important for leaders to know when to cut the cord and how to do it professionally.

“I am a fan of being direct but fair,” Ditzler said. “I think people deserve to know where they stand. I don’t think we do anyone a favor by sweeping the situation under the rug. This is an area we as coaches can help by holding our clients accountable to have the conversations that need to take place.”

The Coach’s Role

So where exactly does the coach fit into the talent development process? According to Ditzler, it depends on who is being trained. If it’s a new employee, he suggests coaches keep to the sidelines and advise rather than involve themselves directly. When it comes to the leadership team, however, it’s a different story.

“With most of our clients, our number-one job as coaches is to help them hire, retain, develop, and coach a high-performance leadership team,” Ditzler said, “so everything involved with that is a priority, including hiring A players, coaching up B players and moving C players out. It is an ongoing job of continuous improvement and relentless pursuit of a great team.”

  1. Raw talent hires come with tremendous benefits for the modern business world, such as adaptability and flexibility.
  2. Ensure naturally gifted hires are also placed within roles that play to their strengths.
  3. Shorten the learning curve for raw talent hires through direct mentoring, face-to-face learning, and hands-on training.
  4. Know when to cut the cord, and handle it professionally.
  5. One of the primary functions of a coach should be developing talent within the leadership team.

 

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