Use Or Lose: Nurture Your Talent

nurture your talent or lose it

Call it brilliance, talent or anything you want, it exists and shouldn’t be taker for granted. If you don’t value brilliance, you don’t value innovation. I wrote that post a few weeks ago and it hit a nerve. It sounds harsh, but it’s true. How true?

Here’s an example…

A good friend of mine recently left his job, one he pitched and created, from a government started incubator and coordinator of the Tijuana entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The reason?

Way too much politics and not enough empowerment for driving innovation within the government itself; much less in the city ecosystem. I understand his situation, and frustration, because I too have had dealings with the government and know that it’s an uphill battle.

Unfortunately, today, the word innovation is merely paid lip service in governments and businesses alike. It’s become a game of playing not to lose, instead of playing to win; and you don’t win by playing it safe.

No one ever wants to lose top talent, but of course, this is common in established businesses too: talent leaves because they’re held back.

There are various reasons why talent leave their jobs: their boss is a jerk, lack of empowerment, internal politics, no recognition, and because the business is struggling.

It’s a constant challenge to retain the best and brightest.

So, how do you retain, empower and nurture talent in your organization?

Without trust, creative collaboration is not possible

There are many factors that drive innovation in any type of environment, but enthusiasm is the keystone. And you fan the flames of enthusiasm by nurturing trust; it’s the ultimate ingredient. When you nurture it you get people who never want to leave because they are empowered and unleashed.

As Ed Catmull, co-founder and President of Pixar, says about creating a culture of excellence:

Trust doesn’t mean that you trust that someone won’t screw up— it means you trust them even when they do screw up.

It’s not rocket science. Too many institutions and organizations kill trust by forcing people to always take the safe path and avoid failure; but failure isn’t a necessary evil. In fact, it isn’t evil at all. It is a necessary consequence of doing something new.

Trust has a compounding effect, it adds up when you try new stuff an recover quickly when an idea doesn’t work; it creates a series of small wins. As Teresa Amabile has found, small wins are critical to motivate people to keep pushing forward against all odds and create progress.

Bottom line…

The above tweet is a reference to our individual talent, but the same can be said about the talent you have in your organization: use it or lose it.