A Salute to the Second Bananas in the Workplace!
So much focus is put on leadership, we run the risk of overlooking the incredibly wide range of talents in everyone — just waiting to be developed more.
People who strive for a leadership position are held in higher esteem than those who do not. A second-class message lingers about employees who do not strive to move up the ladder — despite their vast talents and contributions.
We can replace this misguided culture with one that values all the talents of the entire team.
The benefits to the organization and employees abound.
- Retention of high performing team members and their knowledge and finely honed teamwork.
- An abundance mentality rather than a fight for the leadership spots.
- A flourishing collaboration as people experience true recognition rather than a skew toward those who strive for the title of leader.
This is the zone of true employee engagement. It highlights contributions not just as tests for future leadership slots but also as a celebration of everyone’s talents and contributions. People can grow and excel at what they do well rather than feign interest in a leadership position to avoid being seen as an underachiever.
25 Incredibly Valuable Talents to Honor & Celebrate
In addition to occupational skills and business knowledge, people have natural talents and people skills abilities that deliver success to the organization.
- A great collaborator. Those who have natural collaboration skills or have developed them through years of work are a definite asset to any team.
- A memory bank. Even the greatest computers don’t replace someone with a memory for BOTH what has transpired AND the human impact and reaction to it. This memory bank becomes the team’s intuition and collective gut for in-the-moment decisions.
- A motivator. Those who inspire themselves and others to higher levels bring every organization to un-imagined success.
- A velvet truth teller. These naturals at speaking the truth honestly not brutally deliver the soft strength of trust to an organization and its pursuits.
- A creative. Having a creative on a team whose function is not primarily creative expands the team’s capacity to work on non-standard requests and its ability to work with creative departments.
- An innovator. Those who love and deliver innovation fuel evolution and prevent the failure that comes from inertia and resistance to change.
- A supporter. Supporters naturally anticipate needs, fill gaps, and often excel at last minute problem solving. Valuable for any team.
- An empathizer. Teamwork needs more than occupational skills to succeed. It needs people with emotional intelligence who can sustain each other. An empathizer does this easily and well and helps all to rise above tough times to reach the goal.
- A sounding board. This ability to know exactly when to listen and when to question while allowing others to own their progression uplifts all who experience this gift.
- A get-it-done guy/gal. Without action, ideas die. The follow-through champs drive home success.
- A healthy skeptic. Skeptics abound and often drown progress. Healthy skeptics challenge assumptions and prevent groupthink to keep progress flowing.
- A critical thinker. Often tapped for a leadership position yet not always interested or successful as a leader. Their value to any team is undisputed.
- A port in a storm. Those who can keep the calm for themselves and others during unexpected chaos keep the team balanced and performing during the blasts.
- A practical philosopher. Philosophical insights can sustain morale, move all beyond obstacles, and even solve problems. When applied with a simultaneous eye for the practical, the practical philosopher sees solutions that others overlook.
- A balance beam. Employees that see both sides of every issue, easily give and take, have hope yet still understand despair, love the present and adapt to the future, become the solid base of success for the whole team.
- A sprinter. Bursts of winning energy help every team handle sudden changes and requests, jump the hurdles, and win the day.
- A marathoner. Picture a grueling project that is not a sprint. Marathoners are an endless pump of energy, hope, and action during the long haul.
- A billboard of diversity. An employee who is of mixed culture, has lived in different countries, grew up with parents of different generations, etc… can bring a valuable renaissance of open-mindedness to the organization and resulting success.
- A nexus of personality types. Personality type differences can often be the source of discord. People who border the different personality types (and yes they do exist), help smooth the rough edges and blend the diversity into success.
- A double cookie. This is a phrase I coined for people who have great capacity to use their left and right brains together. Instead of being heavily left brain or tipping over to the creative right side, double cookies deliver the power of creative analysis and the big picture. They can spot when the team is trapped on either side or in a war between the two. They spotlight the juncture for team success.
- An intuitive. Historically, workplace cultures have marginalized the value of intuition. That is slowly changing to embrace intuitives’ gift of the gut to speed team success.
- An organizer. The natural organizer clears the path of complexity for all to reach simple success.
- A transplant. The employee who has worked in many industries, or professions, or departments in the organization delivers the single greatest advantage to reducing silos. Let us not label them as unreliable. Let us benefit from their broad vision.
- A rainmaker. This rare ability to create opportunities and attract new customers is not just for sales departments. A rainmaker fuels cross teamwork. A rainmaker can energize any team to the highest level of spirited performance.
- A communicator. Great communication was, is, and will be the essential fuel and necessary glue of any organization. Celebrate those who do it well and let them be the model for the organization.
What must leaders do to salute these talents and the employees who have them?
- Overcome the historical myth that those who don’t want to climb the ladders are lazy. Global success does not proceed vertically. Companies must reach outward not just upward. Organizations who “get this”, retain the talent.
Change compensation schemes that claim there must be some who outperform others and base bonuses on that scheme. When you retain tremendous talent who are feeding success, make sure you give them all the fruits of their labor.
Change compensation schemes that automatically pay more if someone switches into a management/leadership position. This has been discussed for years as the dual track issue and some organizations have made great strides.
Give testimonials on high performers to other departments. Employees who don’t want to climb the ladder may want to broaden their experience by working in other areas of the organization. When a leader praises their talents to other department leaders, that leader is saluting the employee’s talent. The leader is fueling the employee’s career success and the organization’s as well.
From your unique perspective, what would you add to the list of 25 to make it a list of 50 valuable talents to honor and celebrate? I welcome your contribution in the comments field below.
From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™
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Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.
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~Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™