How to Be a Talent Magnet

Magnets have a powerful, yet invisible force of attraction. Talent magnets have a similiar impact as they attract and retain A players, who then attract more talent. Notice I didn’t entitle this article, How to Build a Talent Empire, which is much less subtle and far less effective.

I’ve built a career based on attracting people way smarter than me to do the things I couldn’t possibly do. Liz Wiseman calls this approach, being a talent magnet in her book Multipliers. I call it common sense, or perhaps heredity. My dad carries the same jump-into-things-you-know-nothing-about gene.

The 4 Practices of the Talent Magnet

“Empire builders seek to surround themselves with “A” players. But unlike talent magnets, they accumulate talent to appear smarter and more powerful. The leader glosses over the real genius of the people while placing them into boxes on the org chart. The players have limited impact and start to look more like A- or B+”
~ Lis Wiseman, Author of Multipliers

Liz Wiseman’s research found four common practices among talent magnets:
  1. Look For Talent Everywhere – My favorite part of this context is ignore the boundaries.. They’re less inclined to look for traditional qualifications than looking for the right cocktail of talents just right for that role.
  2. Find People’s Native Genius – Liz explains: “A native genius is something that people do, not only exceptionally well, but absolutely naturally. They do it easily, without extra effort and freely, without condition”. Tap into that.
  3. Utilize People To Their Fullest – This is all about connecting people to the right opportunities and shining the spotlight on them when it’s time.
  4. Remove The Blockers – A players have a low tolerance for BS. Talent magnets get that, and do their best to move the stupid stuff out-of-the-way, so the native genius can get to work.

I had an opportunity to talk with Rob Delange, Director of Training of the Multiplier Group about my approach to building talent magnets…

Rob also asked what I was most proud of in my career at Verizon. No contest: watching people grow…

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Posted in Authenticity & Transparency, Career & Learning, Communication, Energy & Engagement and tagged , , , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.

10 Comments

    • Steve, Love the concept of “enrolling.” Love that feeling where people approach you (or your team) and want to know how they can get into the game.

  1. Karin,

    I love this mixed media post!

    I have to say I am finding that this magnet stuff works! I just joined a team that has been stagnant with little growth for the last 5-6 years, and is now going through some pretty big growth. There have been a lot of bumps along the way, but keeping a positive solution focused attitude has helped me attract those that want to be positive, have fun, and get results.

    I have focused the majority of my energy on employee engagement activities and information. This has caught the eye of some of the remote leadership and is turning others to me for advise on how to get some energy boosted back into their teams.

    I don’t currently have the ability to recruit and select my own team, from a direct report perspective, but I do have the ability to attract a “Positive Posse” and that is Priceless!

    -Shawn

    • Shawn, Thanks so much for sharing your story. Very inspiring. I’m so glad to hear you’re attracting the right kind of talent. Please keep us posted on the impact on results.

  2. Love the idea of talent magnets! My experiences have been that often HR or senior leaders don’t take the time to find those natural gifts in others and as a result there is so much untapped energy and talent.

    When all levels of leadership embrace learning about their team member’s passions and strengths, the result is a more innovative workplace with people sharing many of their hidden talents. Let the artists draw. Let the communicators tell stories. Let the designers create events.

    Thanks Karin!

    • Terri, With all due respect (and after spending the first decade of my career in HR) you can’t count on HR to find your talent. Their scope is too wide. Sure, they can be great strategic partners, but the best leaders become magnets themselves. Thanks so much for your great comments.

  3. I definitely resonate with the “looking for talent everywhere” approach.

    As someone who hires for an internal help desk that services demanding, Type-A personalities with little technical knowledge, I am always on the the lookout for individuals who have the gift of communication. The traditional help desk engineer, who speaks geek would never work out for our department.

    I’ve been known to recruit wait staff, retail clerks, and even a young woman a few years back working in a bagel shop. I am always on the lookout when I go out. If the individual has the basics, I can teach the rest. What I cannot teach, however, is personality.

    • Bill, I’ve lived that dilemma for years… you need the expertise of speaking geek and the connection that goes well beyond that. It’s a rare combination. I too have been know to recruit many a waiter or wait staff… you can tell….

  4. Loved the way you mixed up your media in this one, Karin! And loved the interview!

    As a leader, I have always found that that helping people find their genius has always resonated with me…If I can encourage and help others build confidence in their abilities, not only am I satisfied, but team members grow in both morale and capabilities.

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