Leaders, Top Talent Succeed With This

A Story of Leadership Hope and Top Talent

A company was courting a former coaching client of mine away from the company where she was working. I was not surprised since she is a high achieving team player with a broad skill base and an incredible can-do attitude.

She fits the quintessential definition of top talent and networks even though she has a good job.  In fact, it was through networking that she met the leader at the hiring company who wanted her to join his team. Sounds great yes? Think this play will have a long run? Let’s look behind the curtain.

Leaders, Top Talent Succeeds With This Image by:Iguana Jo

As she described the opportunity to me, I understood her mixed feelings. Here’s what the leader told her:

My team needs a high achiever as a role model. They have good skills yet are not a high performing team. I think bringing you on as a team member will inspire them to higher performance. There’s a recently vacated position perfect for you. I don’t want to highlight what I hope you will do for the team. It might create hurt feelings or resistance. Just come on board, be your high performing self, and let’s watch the team improve.

She was intrigued by the idea of uplifting a team. Yet she was uncomfortable with his desire to keep his purpose hidden. He seemed to overlook his role in developing a team of top talent.

Top Talent Succeeds With …

  1. Transparency and clarity. Clear vision, issues on the table, and honest communication. What will the leader do if the team members complain about the top talent he has brought in instead of bringing his hope to reality? His conflicted goals of no conflict and top performance made her wary of the opportunity.
  2. Leaders Who Nourish the Soil. Top talent expect leaders to enrich the field with the big picture, nourish the path with an active energetic vision, and even address the toughest weeds to pave the way for success. She felt this leader was hopeful yet barren – a lazy dreamer. She had worked on various high performance teams and the leader’s contribution was ever present yet never intrusive.
  3. Learning. In a learning culture, top talent enjoy an endless stream of energy that pulses success. The leader who is unwilling to learn and unwilling to stretch others to learn robs top talent of the very energy they both crave and need. She felt that this leader wanted to hide safely behind his hope instead of fueling learning and success.

There is an old saying, be careful what you wish for — you might just get it. Your company, like most, wants top talent. Have you as leaders readied yourselves for what top talent expect and truly need from you?

What would you add to the above list? Let’s talk soon and nourish the soil in which top talent will plant success in your organization.

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

Related Posts:
Leaders, Replace These 5 Behaviors to Attract Top Talent

Leaders, Engage Then Train Then Realize Results!

©2012 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish this post, please email info@katenasser.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

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.

8 Responses to “Leaders, Top Talent Succeed With This”

  1. Steve Keating says:

    I probably wouldn’t have touched that offer with a ten-foot pole. So Mr. Leader, you say you have highly skilled people but they aren’t a high performing team? I hate to tell you this but that kinda sounds like a leadership issue. Where exactly do you fit in helping them grow their way into a high performing team? Are you not the “role model” they need?

    She was right to be wary of the opportunity, top talent deserves top leadership and an environment where they can prosper. I would be most concerned about his comment “let’s “watch” the team improve.” Leadership is not a passive kind of thing, we don’t “watch” people grow, we are involved in their growth. Leadership is a strenous activity and authentic leadership doesn’t allow a leader to just watch anything.

  2. Cyndy Trivella says:

    A very important message Kate.

    I worked for an organization years ago that did something similar to what you describe here. I was not one of the people that was affected by this, but I saw firsthand what happened. The VP in charge wanted to bring in someone new from the outside to “kick start” one of the team’s in the office. Ultimately, he found a leader whom he thought would accomplish this, hired her and set her loose on the team. He gave her carte blanche to do as she saw fit which included training, coaching, leading, hiring and firing. Boy did this backfire! Productivity went down, morale was at an all-time low, she was horribly resented for her intrusive and over-bearing manner and was found to not be the resource he had claimed her to be. Once this VP recognized the error in hiring this person, he relinquished her of her responsibilities, which sent the message that she was no longer being backed by him. Ultimately, the people in that team retaliated (in subtle ways) against their former leader in such a way that she eventually quite.

    As an outsider looking in, if you will, what I saw was a travesty of leadership taking place. The VP who hired this outside leader had all intentions of her being the “bad guy” in the office. He also set the team leader up for failure by not being transparent with the existing team and setting the stage for the team leader’s presence. Frankly, I was very disappointed at the VP’s behavior and actions; he should not have been in a leadership role, but he was there due to a common mistake made by many sales organizations. He was placed there because he was a good sales person.

  3. This is a “set-up” for the high-achiever and I’d be very concerned about the views this leader is offering of the team. By commenting on “hurt feelings” and “resistances,” he is giving away his negative beliefs about specific members of that group. When a leader talks about a team in a generic, unrevealing but negative way, watch out, it can be shorthand for many unresolved conflicts and problems. It may even suggest the leader commonly manages (manipulates?) people by “leaking” his judgments of co-workers. That may temporarily sound good to the ear when it pads a person’s ego, as in this case, but as a habit it is a danger sign that you, too, could be on the wrong end of that stick.

    Not somebody I’d want to work for.

  4. Khalid says:

    Hi Kate,

    I think the idea of introducing a new team member might be good in the sense that it will rock the boat of the team and make them a bit uncomfortable with their initial positions. This might inject a sense of competition within the team as each will compete to prove him or herself.

    But as you mention without a clear vision to move on, then this is useless as the storming part of the team build up is just a jungle fight without direction to guide the storm to norm!

    And Definetely not pushing a top performer with such team as its not fair!


  5. Kate – My first thought was that the titled leader used an approach that often works… His offer was a temptation. He stroked her ego and expected her to respond. Your client was incredibly discerning to look beyond that temptation and see the truth!

    My second thought was to consider how many organizations are looking for a magic wand, and a pinch of pixie dust to “fix EVERYTHING!” …Instead of investing in understanding what is broken and really solving problems.

    Cindy – Thank you for sharing your story. I believe, stories that that are a sad reality for far too many organizations.

    Steve – I love your emphasis that leaders don’t “watch” people grow, they get involved!

  6. Peg Gillard says:

    Leaders are an integral part of a team,no matter what type of organization. That leader works, learns, grows and crafts with/alongside of the team. If a leader puts him/herself above or outside of the team, I would probably refuse the offer. In the end, the buck does stop with a leader and if s/he hasn’t been along for the entire “ride” they will not know the process the team engaged in to get them to the endpoint. It sounds as though this leader has created an atmosphere of competition within his team and that too concerns me. That sets the team up for secrecy and disharmony.

    As a leader, I would want to entice a high achiever because my team was a great fit for that person and I knew my team would also benefit from the skills this person brought. If a high achiever is “brought in to fix” a team, they will slowy wither up bacuase they also must be nourished by the team. Your client used good intuition to examine all angles of this offer.


  7. Great post, Kate! I agree with Dan – this could be an unfortunate set up for failure. You client might well thrive in this new environment – but she has clear insights about the culture of the organization and this leader’s approach. It’s manipulative (slightly but manipulative none-the-less) and, at it’s core, dishonest.
    Leadership is at it’s best – and inspires other’s best – when it creates clear vision, purpose, values, strategy, goals, and consistent performance. The foundation of this potential role has some large cracks, especially in the area of values!
    I’d coach her to keep looking – a better values-match opportunity is out there for her.



  8. Guy Farmer says:

    Great post Kate. It makes me think of the importance of building a healthy organization that is ready to accept talent people. An an essential element of helping top talent succeed is the ability for leadership to get out of the way and let them shine.

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