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05/4 2011

Should You Ban the Word “Talented” From Your Vocabulary?

Should leaders stop referring to key employees as being “talented”, “special”, or as having “high potential”?   The answer is yes, according to author Tony Schwartz.

According to Schwartz, such designations frequently result in said individuals receiving credit for things that they did not do, and also serves to imply that other employees do not have similar potential.

Schwartz, author of “The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working:  The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance” also offers the following tips to inspire and nurture excellence in those that they lead:

  1. Regularly, genuinely, and specifically acknowledge & appreciate other’s successes:  There may be nothing more motivating to those you lead than to notice what they are doing well, and to express your appreciation with detail and specificity.   Adding a handwritten note is also a nice touch!
  2. Provide constant feedback:  Many people do not improve their skills because they do not receive feedback regularly enough.   Be sure not to just focus on deficiencies — instead, focus on where you can help them improve…
  3. Create and protect periods of uninterrupted focus:  Don’t demand instant responses from your people all day, as you can greatly interrupt their work flow and focus.  Resist evaluating people by the number of hours they work, and focus instead on evaluating others based on the value they produce.
  4. Focus on renewal throughout the day:  Many great performers can work intensely for 90 minute periods, then need time to recover and refuel.  Consider creating a “renewal room” or area — complete with comfortable furniture and quiet surroundings — to facilitate this process.
  5. Tie the pursuit of excellence to a larger mission:  Start by defining what you truly stand for, share with others what motivates you to get up in the morning, and encourage others to go through the same exercise themselves…

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