Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Talent untapped and talent unused

Effective school leaders are quite savvy at making the connection between an individual’s needs and desires to the goals and objectives of the school or program.  To do so, leaders must be willing and able to invest the time to observe, listen, and learn as much as they can about their teachers.  This investment may pay off with the discovery of untapped talents.  These are the hidden gems often disguised by teachers who are unaware of how that particular skill can advance the mission of the school.  Untapped talents that are connected to larger school-wide goals provide great opportunity to build morale and internal motivation.

The other side of the equation is unused talent.  This occurs when an individuals talents have been identified, yet their appears to be some roadblock that prevents them from being used.  Roadblocks can originate from the teacher, the leadership, or the structure/policies/procedures of the school.  If those talents are useful, some solution that allows for them to be shared can be powerful.

Here are a few examples of what to listen for in order to evaluate how effective your school is at “finding talent untapped” or “encouraging talent unused.”

Talent “untapped”

Talent “unused”

“I didn’t know I could do...” “I wish I could...”
“I think I can help…” “I’m too busy to help…”
“I appreciate the opportunity…” “I would rather not…”
“Here I am…” “I’m not available…”

Every school will have some degree of both untapped and unused talent.  There is no end game to the efforts needed to identify the former while minimizing the latter.  The challenge for school leaders is to notice signs of the presence of both.  Once identified, engage talent untapped and motivate/encourage talent unused.

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