I learned an interesting lesson a few years ago.
If you want to REALLY understand a topic, subject or domain, challenge yourself to teach it to others.
It is HARD.
When you think you know something well, attempting to share your own knowledge is a surprisingly difficult challenge.
It exposes the previous hidden gaps in your own knowledge and challenges you to confront the many “grey zones” of nuance in every discipline.
Developing talent and skills is hard work, and usually falls into the “Important But Not Urgent” bucket – which is probably the root of all evil in this regard.
This article by Stefan Stern in Management Today caught my eye.
We all know that talent is key to success but why do so many of us resort to the search for the “silver bullet”? – the one person who has all the knowledge, attitude, aptitudes and skills required to be a perfect fit for any role.
We tend to search externally for this mythical unicorn . . . .
This relates to the question of why so many CxOs are recruited externally and so rarely developed and promoted from within.
Deborah questions why internal talent doesn’t climb the ladder in the companies they serve, forcing them to move elsewhere.
“Do enterprises just like rock star leaders because they think the grass is always greener or has the enterprise neglected its responsibility to create succession plans?”
Silver bullet thinking is alive and well in many areas of business today, and it is always a mirage.
The great thing about developing skills and capabilities internally is that, if teaching others is good personal development, then everyone wins!
I need to do better in “growing our own”, but half the battle is working out what the essential skills really are. Mostly they are the classic, but mis-named “soft” skills. I shared some thoughts on this here . . .
A time-honoured way of developing any capability is the ‘stretch assignment’, which does two things – proves the tenacity, attitude and capabilities of individuals but also, perhaps more importantly, raises their own self belief in doing more than they thought possible.
Ultimately, we all consider this problem too late.
Remember the advice given to gardeners who want to try growing asparagus: “Dig a trench, three years ago.”
I’m getting my spade out . . .
Thanks for reading . . .