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Home » Talent, Teams

Lessons from the world of sport #2 – nurturing Talent

Submitted by on Wednesday, 15 July 2009No Comment

Some of you may remember Glenn Hoddle from his days in an England shirt, as England manager or, more recently, as manager for Tottenham and after that Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Lately he has re-entered the public eye having set up his own football academy in Spain. The story is covered in this article in the Daily Telegraph, with some interesting findings for those interested in how the dynamic of Talent works in Teams.

glenn hoddle

The article observes how Hoddle has been accepting players who have underachieved or failed in the British football system, trained them (to their abilities) and, in some cases, see them resurface with contracts from Continental  clubs.

At a time when most players are being imported to English clubs from abroad, Hoddle’s academy is helping redress the imbalance.

In doing so, we feel he has touched on a realisation that all organisations can learn from, something we call…

The Three Cs of Talent and Teamwork

The story covers three factors that so often hold Talent back from achieving fruition. We call these the ‘3 Cs’ of Talent and Teamwork.

The first C is what we call ‘Context’, which is the environment, team and style a person finds himself in. If the context of English football is not right for a person’s abilities, it does not necessarily mean he or she lacks talent. Moving the ‘context’ worked in the article for Iketchi Anya and Dave Cowley, who moved from England to Spain, where the style of football suited their abilities better.

The second C is what we call ‘Capabilities’. Capabilities are what happens when abilities (talents) are enhanced by practice and skill.

Talent FactorAs Hoddle said: “You see the mentality even when the British are on holiday. Foreigners will have tennis lessons, then they’ll play five sets at the end of the week; they’ll have golf lessons and then go and play a round – the Brits’ attitude is ‘Come on, let’s go and have a round of golf’. Or a little warm up and bang, in we go, five sets like I’m the next Andy Murray. We want to play we don’t want to develop.”

Talent cannot be brought to fruition without patient and deliberate practise, and learning new skills. How much time is spent in modern companies on ‘practise’ and how much on ‘performing’? Great performances cannot come without practice, especially in Asia where opportunities tend to be more limited.

The third C is ‘Challenge’. The challenge needs to be at the right level for a person to grow his or her capabilities. Too easy, and boredom sets in. Too difficult, and frustration and disillusionment take root. Talent needs to be nurtured, not pampered or forced.

Putting the 3Cs to work

Just as inthe world of football, we see Talent facing its own challenges in the corporate setting.

Consider the following situations:

  1. A star manager at one company is hired by another, but after two years is deemed a failure
  2. A ‘high potential’ doesn’t break through, and eventually leaves the company
  3. Middle management underperforms collectively

These are just three situations we came across recently and, whilethey might have different causes, in our case they fit neatly into the ‘Three Cs’ framework.

1. The Star Manager. The Star Manager was greatly assisted by the excellent system in his first company, which let him focus on his talent of delegating and achieving results through people. After he moved, the ‘top-down’ culture of the second company was too bureaucratic, and the culture was too political. Within two years he had ‘failed’ and was ‘moved out’ by the management team.

2. The High Potential. The High Potential in this case was groomed to fit in to a futre career path which really didn’t suit her. In fact, making an assessment of her talents using the Highlands Ability Battery, we discovered that she had been woefully mis-cast in her old role, and helped the new company get her in the right role, based on her talents. This is the 2nd C above, where she had been developed not based on her abilities but weaknesses.

As Peter Drucker wrote ‘It’s the abilities, not the disabilities, that count’!

3. Middle Management collective underperformance. In the case we are referring to, these were 19 middle managers failing to meet  their targets. Following extensive interviews, we discovered that the real problem was the lack of a challenge (The 3rd C).

The challenge of the KPIs weren’t meaningful for them. And the challenge of promotion was considered ‘impossible’. as none of the senior managers had moved or retired in the last four years. So the company got backsliding instead. The solution here was to set up a ‘system’ that nurtured talent and prepared everyone for promotion. Also a system that ensured once promoted, there were forward career plans, even for senior managers.

How to nurture Talent

If you are interested in nurturing Talent, the starting point is to discover where it lies.

Talent Technologies offers a one-day programme called Talent Factor, which helps you:

  • discover your talents
  • identify the roles you are most likely to excel in
  • turn your talents into strengths (capabilities)
  • put your talents to work in a team setting (context)

For more details, please feel free to call us on +662 6393550 or contact us using the form here


Talent Technologies :: Taking your Talent to a Higher Level


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