What is Talent?

Talent is any useful skill or ability that can be harnessed to drive the achievement of organizational goals. That’s the simplest definition of talent as far as a company is concerned. Our perception of the definition of talent reflects our attitudes and assumptions. You grudgingly get out of bed in the morning, take a shower, throw on your suit, jump into the car and arrive at work a few minutes past resumption time. You sit at your desk all day with half an eye watching the clock eagerly waiting for the business day to close and when you get a call on the intercom, you roll your eyes because you know it’s more work for you. This attitude towards work reflects a poor definition of talent. One can deduce from the description above, that talent to such a person is the ability to do the utmost minimum in order to keep a job.


Think about when you began the journey of your career – the first job you got. Was it an internship or an entry level position? What was your next job after that? What are the top qualities that were instrumental in your development – experience, expertise, soft skills, hard work, attitude, passion? Now think about what these qualities mean to you. Do they set you apart? Do you live by them?



You could be on the other side of the table, let’s say the team lead, human resource or talent manager or maybe the managing director, how you see talent influences the decisions you make within your organization. When you look into the cubicles and shared offices, what do you see? Resourceful and integral parts of the organization or cogs in a wheel that should just get the job done?



You may be wondering ‘why so many questions?’ but beneath each question lies a concept with three distinct variables yet many dimensions. As individuals, our ideologies about talent shapes our attitude towards our work, our capacity to deliver more and potential to learn and grow. This ultimately tells on how we contribute to the organizations we join. As leaders, it influences how we guide, nurture and cultivate talent towards achieving organizational goals. As organizations, it influences the policies put in place to acquire, manage and retain talent when building a workforce that will give the business a competitive advantage.  As the slogan says “your company is only as good as your best employees”.



If these three variables are in alignment, the outcome will not just be a rewarding experience for individuals and leaders but also yield tremendous results for the organization – leading to growth and profitability.


Talent should never be static, it’s dynamic, always evolving. Here are some examples of how to put talent into action:


Work smart, don’t just work hard

Hard work is important but having the ability to know when to take the initiative is priceless. Smart work is about asking why and how not just what. As an individual or a leader, you need to think five steps (not just one) ahead. What lies beyond the first step is more important than the first step itself. It’s not okay to lay back when your organization has an issue and complain about how things aren’t convenient for you to get the job done, taking the initiative and figuring out how the organization can overcome that hurdle is the kind of mindset one should adopt.


It’s all about work ethic

Great skills, loads of experience and super intelligence mean nothing if you have a terrible attitude. Most times attitude trumps aptitude – it’s much easier to improve your aptitude than it is to change your attitude. Attitude here relates to your approach to work and your relationship with your colleagues (subordinates included). Do you wave your authority like a flag? Are you always moody towards colleagues? Are you antisocial?

If you study successful people and what makes them tick, you will find they run with tenacity and are very resilient. They have a drive that makes them keep going even in the face of obstacles and when they fall, they find the courage and strength to get back up and keep going. Every organization is faced with obstacles every now and then but it is the tenacity and resilience of their talent that pulls the organization through.



Nothing trumps passion

People often mistake passion with energy. Passion is the line that connects the dots between our emotions and sense of purpose. Passion is what drives us, creating a desire within us to make a difference. That innate drive reflects on our work and everything we get involved in. It is an incredible gift that sets good talent apart from great talent because it allows us chase perfection and takes us closer to attaining excellence.  It’s a basic notion but a surprising number of managers and leaders tend to miss it.


As an individual, leader or organization, our perspective on talent will shape our approach to work. The nuances will serve as a guide as we continue voyaging towards success in our careers.



What Does Talent Mean to Us at HEworld?

While the definition of talent maybe subjective to an individual, leader or organization, over time, we at Human Edge have developed our unique definition of talent:

Talent is the ability to make an extraordinary contribution to organizational performance or the customer experience.


In our experience, people who fit this definition of talent, at best, can be found in the top five to ten percent of the labor force – the high achievers. To us, talent is not just an ability to do something but the ability to consistently exceed expectations. This perception is the basis of our definition of talent. It is one that will guide the central theme of discussions in subsequent articles.


Written by Genevieve Craig