The management of high performing creative-types is certainly on the agenda for many of my clients. Who else can we rely on to come up with the next breakthrough idea in our organisations, but our high performing “talent”? But, as Lucy Kellaway in London’s Financial Times recently wrote, there is an important balance to be struck in dealing with such folks.

There is something almost mystical about real talent, whether it be artistic, scientific, sporting, or creative, but as Lucy points out in her article, adulation and excessive appreciation alone can result in the creation of a monster. We end up with someone who feels able to make excessive demands, without any resulting requirement for performance improvement!

The article made me think about the delicate balance that my singing teacher manages to pull off. She typically manages to leave me with the feeling that I am making progress, and sounding good, but that there is another level to which I should be aspiring. So I am generally left feeling energised and excited, but certainly not complacent. I think that many sporting regimes manage to pull off this approach through the persistent measurement of personal best performance.

What is it about our relationship with our talented professionals in our work organisations that can get in the way of pointing out where (even they!) can improve?

What is your best experience of being encouraged to stretch and develop your talent when there was no obvious need to do so?

Madeleine McGrath posted this on January 24, 2008, in Talent.
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