Talent selection:I will also point out that I have seen some of the most talented people in the world fail to achieve their true potential. Talent without commitment means nothing.

Selecting talent is surely one of the most important aspects for any group, team or organisation. I have spent a lot of time trying to ensure that the correct people are selected for a number of different roles in areas as far reaching as the government, police, military, sports and business.

I think it is fundamental that everyone that is being selected is given an appropriate understanding of the tests that they are being judged on.  The next key element is that we are not expecting the finished product in those being tested but that we can see potential after which those selected are then given an opportunity to flourish.

It is easy to pick the best 2% in the World at anything. This group of people shine and are easy to spot. The key in talent selection (in my opinion) is not just in selecting the most talented but in the selection of those that are on the line or those that just require a little support to get across the line.

I have no doubt that when I was selected at the age of 22 to join the SAS people were not looking at me as a finished product but as someone who had raw potential that needed to be developed. In talent selection it is also important that we have objective measures as well as subjectivity in the selection process.  People tend to select people they like or are like them.  If we do not like someone we have a tendency to only see bad characteristics.  The skill in selection is to understand this and not lose site of clear statistical analysis.  Is the person actually producing the goods???? Then next issue is one of character.  Wayne Rooney is discussed in the following article.  His attitude of late has been one of arrogance. I have often been asked how I deal with ego’s. Well in the SAS everyone has an ego, the problem becomes when someone thinks their ego is bigger than the group ego. When this is the case and there is no redemption they must be removed.  This group of people no matter how talented will only bring down the group in the long run.  I will not write anymore but introduce an excellent article below on Talent ID from second wave solutions.

Richard Cross, gave a presentation the other day about how we need to rethink the way we see talent. With its roots in weight, value and money, it’s not surprising that talent has come to reflect the worth of individuals—we often think that there is a “war for talent”; we have talent pools; we foster young talent; and so on. We also think of people who have “wasted their talent”. We sometimes muse… “if only I’d had their talent…”

Many people place a monetary value on their talent for work— salary, profits, commission. Some view it by how far they have progressed in their company’s hierarchy—manager, leader, technical expert, major account salesman.


The World is Changing

However, as the world continues to change—changes brought about by the accelerating pace of technological advancement and the increasing importance of knowledge— so our thoughts about talent need to adapt to keep pace. Additionally, risk and uncertainty are at an all-time high (and continue to rise). You only have to look in a newspaper to verify this—the banking crisis; terrorism; pensions; oil spillages; Liverpool FC; Wayne Rooney. Risk and uncertainty have to be factored into our concept of talent.


Our Role in the World

Soon, it seems, we shall all be knowledge workers. We shall have dele- gated (or should I say relegated) making things to less developed economies. Where will our value come from then? What will talent consist of for those of us who do not make things, but still need to earn?


Redefine Talent. Redefine our Place in the World

We can no longer depend on company hierarchy to allow us to place a value on our talent. We can no longer depend on companies to place a monetary value on our talent. We have to begin to make the change from de- pendent to interdependent, from allowing others to value our            talent to placing a value on it ourselves. From seeing talent as a static concept to a dynamic force, capable of change and fed by the power of connections.



Just as “talent” started out as a weight within a measurement system, so we have to think about our talent as a complex set of inter-related abilities and connections that have to be understood, valued and developed systematically.


A Way to Measure Talent

It can’t be weighed like silver. It can’t even be seen. But, we know when we

confront it. We all know when we come face-to- face with a talented person. What is it, then, that we can see, while at the same time we can’t? It isn’t knowledge, but knowledge plays apart. No talented people are ignorant of their subject matter,            but neither are they generally the most knowledgeable. It’s what they do with knowledge. It’s how they judge relevance. It’s how they convert knowledge into insights. It’s how they use knowledge to connect with other people. It isn’t even skill, although this is probably closer. We all know that Wayne Rooney is a very talented footballer. He probably isn’t the expert on the rules of the game, but he has gifted feet; he has “Talent” is a very old measurement and was used universally as a way of placing worth on something. For example, a Greek talent of silver was the value of nine man-years of skilled work. It was also the amount of silver that would pay a month’s wages for a war- ship’s crew of oarsmens insight; he knows where to run to be in the right place at the right time. Outside of football, i.e. off the pitch, he seems to be having a tough time, so there is an indication that talent is situational. And, on the pitch, it is possible to see that talent is not ever- present. Even Our Wayne can look ordinary from time-to- time.

To my mind, part of Wayne’s talent is being in the right place so others can give him the ball at the right time.


Talent in the Present and for the Future

Based on Richard’s re- searches with talented people in sport, the arts, politics and business, he has identified five characteristics that allow people to apply their knowledge and skills in such a way as to become regarded as talented. This was the basis of his presentation to the client the other day.


First and foremost, truly talented people have a compelling vision, combined with a desire to learn and a need to deliver.They are able to build a picture for themselves of what the end game will look like. They learn experientially (that’s not to say they don’t read, but that’s not necessaily how they learn); they draw on their experience a lot in forming judgements. They connect ideas to create their vision. They are reliable, conscientious about meeting deadlines, focused on finishing what they started and tend to be punctual.


Self Belief

Talented people have a strong sense of themselves and their place and worth. They take control and responsibility for their own destiny—they do not

depend on others for this. In this sense they are independent.

They have a positive mindset. Optimistic by nature, they respond well to new challenges. Finally, they are persistent. They see things through to the end and bounce back from setbacks stronger than before.

They are a joy to be around. They are “energisers” who connect well with other people.


Passion and Principles

To be talented is to believe— believe in yourself, and also in what you’re doing. Talent involves inspiring others through your own passion. It also leads the talented person to elevate their own game to the next level of performance, no matter how much they have already achieved.

Passion produces both enterprise and a striving nature— people with such passion are seen as competitive, persusive, ambitious and driven.

Passion is complemented by Principle. Talented people are ethical (more ethical than their peers); they respect confidences; they honour their commitments.


A Questioning Disposition

Talented people are insightful, analytical and non- compliant.

Insightful in that they are quick to get to the core of a problem; constantly looking for ways to improve things; and basing their judgement on their intuition.


Analytical in that they are always asking probing questions, even though they may not be the most interested in analysing information. They connect pieces of information together to create meaning. This is a particular feature of talented people,

and one to look out for and develop yourself. If you have a question in your mind, then you’re more likely to have an “aha moment” than if you don’t.

If you’re in a situation where you can learn something, then it’s good to have a question that can lead to the possibility of learning. And, in organisational set- tings, questions give control; they are the basis of persuasion.


Non-compliant in that they are disinclined to follow rules; dislike following procedures; and take moderate risks when making decisions. Typically, they are balanced risk-takers, who mitigate the risks they take with contingency plans. By connecting people, ideas and information together they balance risk-taking.



Talented people develop a deep and diverse network. Typically, they are modest about their own achieve-ments, have a low need for praise and don’t enjoy the limelight (although they often find themselves in it). They network well, although they may be quite quiet when in social situations. They are unlikely to be seen as sombre—more likely they are lively.

The lucky ones had a world-class mentor at the beginning of their career. But self-determination means that talented people tend to find a mentor eventually. The value of their network can be measured in quality rather than volume. It’s a learning community, which is based on mutual trust and reputation.


Back to Measurement

Through our use of the Wave Profile, Second Wave Solutions can measure the characteristics that define talent. Using the test, we can’t measure how good Wayne Rooney is at football. We can’t even measure how well he knows the rules. What we can do is measure how well he is likely to apply what he knows and his skills to be a truly great talent.

We can also do that for you.

We can help you to identify talent in your current workforce.

We can help you to identify talent in prospective employees.

And, we can help you to create ways and means of developing your people (and yourself) to explore and capitalise on innate talents so they can be the best they can be.


So What?

To develop your own talent, perhaps you’d like to try our “mini-test”…



1.Do you have a vision for your own future? 2.Do you connect ideas together to form your vision? 3.Do people come to you in order to set out the goals and objectives of projects? 4.Do you learn by experience rather than by reading? 5.Do you use your intuition to guide your judgement? 6.Are you conscientious about meeting deadlines and being on time for meetings? 7.Are you a deliverer? Someone who always delivers the goods?


Self Belief

1.Do you feel in control of your own future? 2.Do you take full responsibility for what’s happened to you and what will happen to you? 3.Do you feel positive about the future? 4.Are you an “energiser”? 5.Do you enjoy new challenges, even when they introduce change into your life? 6.Are you persistent—always seeing things through to the end? 7.Do you bounce back from setbacks, stronger than before?



1.Do you believe in what you’re doing—not just going through the motions? 2.Do you inspire others with your passion? 3.Are you always looking to elevate your performance to the next level of achievement? 4.Are seen as competitive and ambitious? 5.Are you driven to achieve? 6.Are you totally ethical? Do you respect confidences and honour commitments?


A Questioning Disposition

1.Do you get to the core of problems quickly? 2.Are you always on the lookout for ways of improving things? 3.Do you trust your intuition to guide your judgement? 4.Do you ask a lot of probing questions? 5.Do you tend not to over-analyse situations? 6.Do you think of questions that will help you learn something? 7.Do you connect pieces of information together to create meaning? 8.Do you tend not to follow the rules? 9.Do you dislike following procedures? 10.Do you take moderate risks? 11.Do you construct contingency plans to mitigate risks?



1.Do you have a deep and diverse network? 2.Are you modest about your achievements? 3.Do you tend to be quiet in social settings? 4.Are you considered lively rather than sombre? 5.Do you connect people together to create learning opportunities? 6.Do people trust you to honour commitments and deliver the goods? 7.Do you have a mentor with whom you discuss important issues about your effectiveness? 8.Are you a mentor to someone who is a “developing talent”?

You can find this and all our other newsletters at: http://www.secondwavesolutions.co.uk

If you would like to discuss these            issues with SWS, please call

Richard Cross: 07884 357163 or

Peter Ellen: 07799 437453 or

Derek Riley: 07966 291514

3 thoughts on “Talent selection:I will also point out that I have seen some of the most talented people in the world fail to achieve their true potential. Talent without commitment means nothing.

  1. Have you ever thought about publishing an ebook or guest authoring on other websites? I have a blog based on the same information you discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information. I know my audience would appreciate your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an e mail.

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