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Karin’s Leadership Articles

Attract Great Talent By Being a Talent Magnet

Magnets have a powerful, yet invisible force of attraction. Talent magnets have a similiar impact as they attract and retain rock star 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:

Talent Magnet Qualities

  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…

Karin Hurt Multiplier of the Year on Being a Talent Magnet

how to be a talent magnet

The Best Part of Leadership: Watching People Grow

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

Karin Hurt, talent magnet

2021 Update

If you’ve stumbled upon this article, you’ve found some of my earliest interviews on leadership.

Since then, done a lot of research and writing on the topic of growing talent, building courageous culture, and developing human-centered leaders.

You can learn more about Let’s Grow Leaders, our books, and the work we do to grow human-centered leaders around the world here.

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders find clarity in uncertainty, drive innovation, and achieve breakthrough results.  She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.

10 Comments

  1. Steve Borek

    Create a culture where employees are ecstatic about working for you.

    They’ll tell the world. You won’t have to recruit. The best will enroll.

    Reply
    • Karin Hurt

      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.

      Reply
  2. Shawn

    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

    Reply
    • Karin Hurt

      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.

      Reply
  3. Terri Klass

    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!

    Reply
    • Karin Hurt

      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.

      Reply
  4. Bill Benoist

    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.

    Reply
    • Karin Hurt

      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….

      Reply
  5. LaRae Quy

    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.

    Reply
    • Karin Hurt

      LaRae, Thanks so much. It’s so fun, right?

      Reply

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