Is Talent a Nemesis of Leadership?

Steve James headshot

An important lesson learned from President & CEO, Steve James

 Is talent a nemesis of leadership?  The answer is yes, or it could be.

Leadership is influencing others to be a better person than they were yesterday. It takes humility to be a great leader. Trying to advance others without a hidden agenda to better yourself is a desired leadership characteristic. Talent on the other hand, builds ego. Typically, you think of talent as either artistic or athletic, but talent also arises when you practice or gain enough hands-on experience. As I have told my team, I am going to write a book on how to become a CEO on mediocre talent. As I look back at my career, the times when I did not show humility and let my talent take over is when the team suffered.

A few months ago, we hired an individual that we had previously let go. I was angry and disappointed that I was not informed about the rehire. I immediately inserted a policy that required my approval prior to rehiring an employee.  This is an example of bad leadership. I let my talent get in the way of having a discussion with the team on what safeguards we needed to insert to protect fellow employees and the company. Inserting a policy that required my approval gave the team the impression that I didn’t trust them, which is far from the truth.

 Fortunately, I realized my mistake quickly. The team knows I trust them to make the correct decisions, however we are still dealing with some of the repercussions. As a leader, you always need to keep your talent in check. Uncontrolled, it can devastate your team. Luckily for me, my team rises above my talent and allows all of us to become better. Maybe one day I will write that book, I’m getting closer every day.