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Maximise The 4 Talent Types For Team Results - Part 1

Wednesday 14 February, 2007
by Faith Ralston
Every individual on your team has unique talents. One person likes to launch new projects while another prefers tying up loose ends. Talent differences are useful - but sometimes they can lead to trouble. Our best talents also have a flip side. We can use our talents to a fault.

Learn how to help team members contribute their best talents. Discover the four talent types and recognise the conflicts that can arise when different talents work together. Help team members appreciate talent differences, ensuring smooth handoffs and productive teamwork, and encourage each other to play to their strengths.

Are you or individuals on your team in conflict with another person or department at work? If so, you may be dealing with talent differences. Getting things done requires different types of talents. But talent differences can cause conflicts to arise.

The team member who likes to tie up loose ends can feel dumped on. Another who enjoys launching new projects may feel like she is the only one who cares. To succeed, team members need to recognise talent differences and respect what each person brings to the table.

The 4 talent types

In my research on talents, I've discovered four distinctly different talents that are essential to success. Each of the talent types play a critical role in the team's ability to perform successfully.

For ease of use, I have named the four talent types: Diamond, Club, Spade, and Heart talents. Most of us are capable of using all four talents. However, we have a favorite or ‘preferred talent'. Roughly eighty-percent of the individuals who take our Talent Assessment indicate they are ‘low' or deficient in at least one of these core talents.

Very few of us have an equal measure of capability in all four talents. Yet all four types must be present for a team to successfully implement an idea from start to finish. Each talent type makes a different and valuable contribution to work projects.

Every talent is valuable

The following model shows how each talent type contributes to results:

4 Talent Types

At the beginning of a project, Diamond talents are come up with new ideas and possibilities. Throughout the project Diamond talents contribute their ideas and creative solutions. 

Club talents like to champion change and create structures to ensure their success. The Club talent launches new ideas and sets them up for success.

Once the goals are defined, a Spade talent likes to orchestrate implementation. Individuals with Spade talents like to manage the details and make sure the project gets done.

Focusing on relationships is the Heart talent's expertise.  A Heart talent makes sure everyone is working together and motivated to achieve the goal.

All 4 talent-types have a vital role to play on the team. But at each stage of a project, different talents must take the lead. In essence, Diamond talents provide the innovative spark for new ideas and opportunities. Club talents transform these ideas into reality. Spade talents make sure the project crosses the finish line. And Heart talents build the teamwork and morale necessary to keep things humming. To succeed, teams need the four different talent types.

The opportunity

When the four talent types work well together, it's a dream come true! Projects and initiatives thrive. But when talent styles collide, it can become a nightmare. Each talent type has a different strength to contribute to the organisation. Ideally team leaders strive to maximise individual's talent strengths and minimise talent weaknesses. Below is a summary of the strengths and weaknesses of each talent type. Use this information to encourage different contributions and manage inevitable weaknesses.

The Diamond talent

Diamond talentDiamond talents are the innovators. A Diamond talent recognises emerging needs and imagines solutions. This person is a master of possibility thinking. The Diamond thinks creatively and comes up with ‘out-of-the-box' solutions. They look for ‘diamonds in the rough', ideas. They find the one idea among many that holds hidden potential. When a team is low in Diamond talents, there is less creativity and innovation on the team.

A Diamond talent likes to think about what's possible. With their keen insights, they perceive future needs and alternative solutions. A Diamond talent likes to synthesize ideas, develops theories, research information, and design innovative solutions.

A Diamond talent will challenge the status quo. Diamonds are the ones who ask, "What about this idea? Have you thought about trying that?".

Diamond talents

When a team is low in Diamond talent, they will see less options and solutions. The Diamond talent encourages everyone to see possibilities and think differently.

In essence, Diamond talents like to:        

  • Create innovative solutions
  • Challenge the status quo
  • See issues and opportunities
  • Think outside the box
  • Envision a brighter future

The Diamond mind runs a mile a minute. They link ideas from unrelated sources. In conversations, they will quickly jump from one thought to another. Ideas may come out of the blue and seem to have no connection to the current conversation. The Diamond is not bound by the realities of a current situation. They are interested in what could be than in the here and now.

Diamonds love a mental challenge. At the start and throughout projects, the Diamond talent will research ideas to look for the ‘nugget' that makes things work.  Diamonds thrive on stimulation. Ambiguity and innovation invigorate them. Diamonds don't realise they are leaving others in the dust. Often colleagues are confused and don't appreciate the Diamond's ideas until later.

Diamond challenges

A Diamond talent must slow down and help others understand how they came to a conclusion. They may also avoid sending condescending vibes to others who don't understand their ideas. A Diamond talent must recognise it takes time to implement their idea. Ideally, the Diamond talent contributes innovative solutions and ideas to the team.

Diamond organisations

Sometimes entire organisations are dominated by Diamond talents, particularly research and development firms. Apple Computer is a Diamond organisation. The iPod is an out-of-the-box innovation of famed entrepreneur and inventor Steve Jobs. Today, this Diamond organisation is changing the marketplace and causing competitors to scramble. 

Getting Diamond talents to line up and march in unison is difficult. These individuals see themselves as entrepreneurs working within a corporate environment. Diamonds need Club talents to provide structure and ensure funding for their ideas. They need Spade talents to help complete projects they start. Heart talents help Diamonds build the collaboration needed to implement their ideas.

The Club talent

Club TalentsClub talents are activators. They are visionary change agents. Club talents like to champion new ideas and ensure their success. The Club talent uses both personal and organisational power to make good ideas a reality.

Club talents launch new ideas. The Club talents like to secure resources, build alliances, and bring a vision into reality.  Individuals with Club talents envision a brighter tomorrow and know how to set things up for long-term success. Without the push and structure provided by Club talents, new initiatives often wither and die on the vine.

Club talents

Clubs are the ones who say, "Let's do it". Club talents like to:

  • Sponsor initiatives
  • Advocate for change
  • Build alliances and partnerships
  • Put systems and resources in place
  • Set up projects and change initiatives up for success

Without Club talents, strategic initiatives falter. An organisation or team without Club talents often lack a larger vision and purpose.

Club talents aren't interested in small changes. They want a big vision to work on. The Club talent excels at forging alliances inside and outside the organisation. Relationships are formed to support their vision. Clubs know what it takes to create lasting change.

Despite the grandeur of their vision, they are not likely to get in over their head. Once the Club has a vision, they sit back and assess what's needed. The Club goes to work and systematically puts the building blocks in place to achieve the vision. Club talents often launch impressive and sustainable change.

Club challenges

Clubs are focused on achievement. A Club talent may ignore relationships unrelated to their vision and overvalue relationships that support their vision. They can fail to secure adequate buy-in from those affected by a change. Clubs need to stay open to negative feedback and avoid taking criticism of their vision personally.

Club organisations

Bill Gates is a perfect example of a Club talent. Gates did not invent the Microsoft Operating System. Rather, he recognised the value of what a Diamond researcher had developed, brought the idea to market, and built the Microsoft organisation from there. MS-DOS proved to be a lucrative product but the structure that Bill Gates put in place was critical to its success. A quarter of a century later, this structure is still intact. Microsoft is one of the most successful companies in the world; it has a huge share of its respective markets, consistently displays strong earnings, and shows little sign of slowing down.

The Club talent always needs a new challenge. Expect Clubs to sell their idea, assemble the resources, and design the infrastructure to support their project. Once the launch is complete however, you'll be surprised how fast they can walk away. Clubs rarely get involved in doing the actual work that needs to be done. They set up structures where others do the work and tend to the details. Their forte is turning an idea into reality. Ideally, Clubs are the visionary architects.

Related articles:

Maximising The 4 Talent Types For Team Results - Part 2

Maximising The 4 Talent Types For Team Results - Part 3

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