“Managing” true talent is a misnomer. Subjecting the truly inspired to rules is akin to plowing fields with Ferraries – yes it might just work, but it sure is stupid. Use the talented rather for creating the recipes around which the hoards of less inspired can be assembled and scaled. In the same vein, don’t compensate the truly talented by the hour or with a fixed income: you would in effect incentivize them to limit their imagination. Strategy and vision are holistic products, they cannot be bought or measured by the hour, and don’t bow to quantitative rewards.
So then how can you empower the talented? Here’s a few hints.
First, facilitate their access to resources commensurate with the magnitude of their ambitious dreams. Second, give them enough creative freedom and organizational flexibility that they feel excited to tell you about progress rather than compelled. Third, anticipate their needs, of whatever nature they might be. Fourth, listen carefully even if they call you up on New Year’s Eve afternoon. Fifth, introduce them to new situations, people, ideas – give them the raw mental material to make new connections. Sixth, don’t think cheap and short term – in other words don’t be defensive. Seventh, protect them from envy, unfair competition, politics and intrigue – remember they are concentrating on the future and need help fighting those clinging to the past, often experts at subversive practices. In other words talent is fragile and needs nurturing and constant protection from the self-assured, bullish mediocrity. Eighth, be vertical with your promises – the talented are emotionally attached to their craft, and so will invest emotionally in the stated mission.
Photo credit here.