sparkChief & Co.

5 Universal Signs of True Talent

How to Be Sure You Don’t Miss Them

Leaders and their teams talk about the ongoing shortage of talent in their organisations — shortage of tech-savvy individuals, those with leadership and managerial qualities, employees who exhibit outstanding creativity and innovation, and so on.

But the real problem has nothing to do with a talent shortage in many cases. Quite simply, the real problem is two-fold: (1) the invisibility of talent (hidden and undiscovered) and (2) the scarcity not only of talent agents, but also insufficient and ineffective technology to help leadership uncover talent.

The truth is that there are multitudes of talented individuals around the world, but so few people have the capacity to discover them. Talent is all around us. You just have to look for the signs.

Sign 1. Talent Represents Truth

Genuine talent reveals these traits: truthfulness, undeniability, indisputability, and unquestionability. You know talent when you see it. In fact, amateurs, or pretenders, cannot carry it off and look genuine. In fact, they appear to be copycats or pale imitations of true talent, exhibiting neither innovation or creativity.

Talent or skills in any field are honest, such that individuals possessing true talent do not hide behind abilities that they claim to have but that do not really exist. They can do what they say they can do — and do it well. Faced with genuine aptitude, leadership and managerial teams find it difficult to deny, dispute, or question what they encounter on the job.

Sign 2. Talent Is About Love

Talented individuals love and exemplify love by doing what they love, that is, what provides inherent satisfaction, pride, and enjoyment. The people who are most successful — and certainly not merely with regard to financial and career success but also, and maybe more importantly, personal achievement — indubitably love what they do.

And it shows. Just ask them about their professions, their hobbies, and their gifts. They will tell you about what they do, explain it in relatable terms, and want, truly, to share their joy with you. They cannot help themselves.

Sign 3. Talent Is About Being Conscious and Aware

A talented individual understands what is happening in the relevant environment — what’s what — and is conscious and alert to what reality can and should be. They interact positively and meaningfully with their environments, bosses, colleagues, family, friends, and social acquaintances.

Externally aware and self-aware individuals know themselves, and have the ability to recognise their strengths and weaknesses with absolute clarity. They think clearly because they do not allow distractions to interfere. This clarity and long-term vision allow them to acknowledge problems, then swiftly offer innovative and outside-the-box solutions.

Sign 4. Talent Gives Meaning to Life

Excellent role models, talented employees provide an example that is uplifting, fearless, and inspirational. They know what they can do and what they want to achieve — then use their talents and skills to do exactly that. Observers say, “I want to be like them.”

Many people either do not know what they can do or what they even wish to accomplish. But talented individuals make it their job and their joy to live and work with purpose. They could never survive simply performing even a rote or mechanical job without enthusiasm. They bring meaning to every task they undertake, regardless of the level of complexity.

Sign 5. Talent Shows How to Grow

Knowing one’s skills and abilities is not a dead end. In fact, talented people are always eager to learn new things, new ways of being and doing. They possess focus and a commitment to learning and to a cause, whether personal, professional, or societal.

They desire to improve, always, not only themselves but also anyone with whom they interact. Using practical strategies to keep their minds and bodies sharp, talented individuals exhibit the way to grow and develop. The old saying, about the importance of the journey, not the destination, holds true for these people. Even when they arrive, they are always seeking the next destination.

The Search for Talent

Truth, love, awareness, purpose, and growth are the critical components of genuine talent, the foundation from which gifted individuals operate. Recognising these five signs, and knowing what to look for, leaders should find it easier to detect hidden and invisible talent. Discovering valuable employees and engaging them in the organisation’s mission will go far to resolve the so-called talent shortage.

The signs of talent are there for anyone to see. All it takes is openness to see, willingness to engage, and motivation to succeed. Hiring managers should listen carefully when interviewing candidates, being open to the nuances of what potential hires have to say about themselves and their reasons for wanting to join the organisation. Once such talent is on board, line managers should monitor and guide these individuals, ensuring that they remain viable team players. True talent, aligned with leadership, can move the organisation forward on the path to long-term success.

Writes about workforce strategy, leadership, and future of work. Founder & Managing Partner at sparkChief & Co. (

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store