Talent Reviews: What They're Saying Behind Closed Doors

The talent you count on as central to your brand could rub people the wrong way. What you do well, may not do you well.

After two decades participating in talent reviews, I’ve noticed a pattern. The talents candidates count on as central to their brand, are often talked about negatively when assessing their readiness for promotion. Be aware of what decision makers may be saying about you. Your strengths may be weakened in other’s eyes.

5 Talents Reviewed (ups and downs)

Here’s what I’ve heard said about good guys behind their backs. Worry that addressing over-used talents will stifle current performance.

Your boss knows, but you don’t grow.

Be aware of your talent and both sides of the conversation.

1. Servant Leadership

To Your Face: “You always put your team first.” “You avoid the politics and do what’s right for the customer.” “Thanks for creating that culture.”
Behind Closed Doors: “He can’t manage up. “He doesn’t sell his work.”

2. Passion

To Your Face: “I love your passion and energy!” “Your passion inspires your team.”
Behind Closed Doors: “She’s a bit much.” “Is he for real?” “Why is she so excited?” “We need to work on executive presence.”

3. Expertise

To Your Face: “You’re my go-to guy.” “I won’t attend an important meeting without you.” “No one knows “X” better than you.”
Behind Closed Doors:  “Can he move across functions?” “We can’t afford to lose him in his current role.”

4. Sponsors

To Your Face: “You’ve got Joe in your corner. He loves you, that goes a long way.”
Behind Closed Doors “What’s going on here? Why is he so focused on her career?” “Sure, Joe’s his fan, but who else knows him?” “What other relationships has he built?

5. Results

To Your Face:  “Your results are amazing.” “I know if I give it to you it will be done well.”
Behind closed doors: “I get she has results in this function but can she scale?

Don’t Lose You

I don’t want you to be less passionate or to hide your expertise. Neither do they. Use your gifts, and be sensitive to unintended consequences.

  • Understand that your talent can get in the way
  • Talk to your boss about how you’re viewed by others
  • Ask others if they see downsides to your talents
  • Pause after receiving feedback show you’re open for more
  • Observe others with similar style, what annoys you about their approach?
  • Ask what do the other execs think about my style?

Build on your talent with awareness. Ask for input. Adjust with authenticity.