A High-Yield Approach to Talent Development
By Michelle Johnson
In 1986, Robert Fulghum wrote All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, a book of essays about his personal beliefs stated in simple terms. Among the nuggets of wisdom was this: “Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up, and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.”
The seedling analogy has been used time and time again when discussing organizational culture and talent development. After all, the word culture is derived from the Latin cultura, which stems from colere, meaning “to cultivate.” We hear managers refer to the need to “water the plants” or describe the “care and feeding” of those on their teams. The metaphors generally emphasize the plants—and rightly so—but fail to acknowledge the farmers’ role.
Talent development programs must be multifaceted, championed by all leaders and advanced persistently and continuously across the organization. What Jim Collins referred to as “The Flywheel Effect” in his book Good to Great applies to talent development as well. By identifying talent within the organization, thoughtfully and consistently developing it, educating and supporting leaders to become more effective in their roles, and recruiting executives with the skills and passion for leadership development, organizations can build a culture of talent development to strengthen the organization for decades to come.