Have you ever heard of the term “native genius”? A powerful concept, your native genius is something you do exceptionally well and comes to you completely naturally. Your native genius is something you do so easily and freely, and you get results above others without breaking a sweat. Business consultant and executive coach, Kristen Wheeler, describes your native genius as being a little bit like a fish swimming in water. Life in water comes so naturally to the fish that this little creature does it without thinking about what it is doing for a split second.
Good leaders must be able to identify the talents that lie hidden within their teams, each employee’s native genius, and then tap into and make the most of these innate, natural abilities. When reading up about native genius I started thinking about how much latent talent is present in my business and about how to tap into and multiply that talent, instead of diminishing it.
When we take on new projects, it is more common than you’d expect for us to think that we need to add more people to our teams. But before doing so, it’s important to identify existing talent. Ask yourself if the skills and capabilities you need can already be found in your current team? Your motivation shouldn’t be cutting corners and minimising costs so that you can pile up work on the same group of people. It should be about attracting and uncovering hidden talent and challenging people to do more.
Often, these capabilities are revealed when times are tough and when a lack of resources demands that someone must roll their sleeves up and get involved. If you’re a fan of reality-TV competition shows like Survivor or MasterChef, you will have seen this sort of thing in the high-stakes challenges the contestants have to endure. The producers do so for entertainment value but it’s also to test what the contestants are truly capable of.
Similarly, we’ve all the heard stories about moms who somehow manage to lift a car because their child is trapped underneath. They call this hysterical strength because it is a display of such extreme action, beyond what is believed to be normal, that occurs when people are faced with life-or-death situations. I’m not saying that you need to put your teams in dangerous scenarios but there is incredible value in pushing them a bit for their talents to be revealed. When we’re put under pressure, we usually fall back on our strengths, but we also can uncover the raw talent – or native genius – that we didn’t even know we had.
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