TalentCentrik and What Went Right

TalentCentrik and What Went Right, the Big Ideas behind the Professional Leaders Project (PLP) and Hillel’s Steinhardt Jewish Campus Service Corps (JCSC).
Article and Big Idea 2

by Rhoda Weisman

[Article 1 and Big Idea 1 expressed a non-traditional view that the Jewish community does not have a crisis of young leaders referred to as talent. In fact we are rich in them but that we need to be TalentCentrik, making the recruiting and developing of young talent a top priority. This is the second article in a 3-part series. It addresses a central practice in how to build a larger TalentCentrik culture; one in which all talent is invested in and progresses, set-up to win and the work of the organization is excellent.]

Sometimes we need to trip over ourselves to see what’s right in front of us. I certainly did. For example, a few months after Hillel’s Steinhardt JCSC program officially began, I called a meeting of all the professional supervisors. Trying to be diligent, I had an agenda, started on time, and in sixty minutes hoped to win their buy-in so the program would continue. But twenty minutes into the meeting, there was chaos. The supervisors had become aware of the fact that for the prior three months, the JCSC Fellows had been sharing their experiences online. They felt deceived. They were hurt, angry and 100% right. Although no confidences were broken, I hadn’t treated the two groups equally. At that moment, I was dumbstruck by an idea that changed everything:

Big Idea #2: There isn’t only one pool of outstanding talent to develop, there are two.

It is just as important to invest in seasoned talent, those with significant work experience, as it is to invest in their younger colleagues. To build a culture where Jewish life will succeed in the future, both talent pools need to thrive first.

Comprised of Jewish professionals and volunteers, seasoned talent are filled with the knowledge, expertise, leadership and wisdom that hold up our communities. Like their younger counterparts, seasoned talent thrive when sought after to offer these contributions as thought leaders, planners, mediators, educators, motivators, fundraisers and clinicians. In a larger culture, which often values youth over experience, their contributions cannot be underestimated.

Seasoned talent are also the gatekeepers of younger talent. They know where to find them, and can be positive or negative influencers regarding their involvement with other organizations and individuals. In order for seasoned talent to open the doors of opportunity to their younger colleagues, they need to be valued as partners themselves. These partners will “opt-in” to cultures where they are appreciated, bringing their wealth of wisdom, experience and contacts with them.

When seasoned talent are valued by the system, they are valued even more by younger talent. In this dynamic, Millennials and Gen Y’ers who generally have close relationships with their parents, are eager to seek their wisdom. In return, seasoned talent becomes invested in teaching, guiding and advising younger talent to succeed.

Enter the Head of the New Jewish Community High School, renowned educator and community leader. We asked him to nominate a leader for PLP from his school. We also asked him to serve as teacher for our executive team, a thought leader on a ThinkTank panel and mentor young talent in 1:1 sessions from across the country. His sessions were overflowing. Mentees of his are now executive directors and senior school educators and the leader he hired not only is a star in his school, but created a thriving side business that the school helped him launch.

Building a flourishing Jewish culture necessitates making room for younger leaders to progress. When seasoned talent are partners in the process, they are more amendable to opening those precious doors and ensuring leadership succession.

Developing two talent pools and a TalentCentrik culture requires the hard work of patience, trust, flexibility, conflict-resolution and open-mindedness which does not come easy for any of us. But in this case, I believe “winner takes all.” Cultures where younger talent lead and thrive in collaboration with their seasoned partners will win the day. On the heels of the recently published Pew study, we can’t afford anything less.

Rhoda Weisman is an executive coach and consultant specializing in talent and human capital development in the workplace. Rhoda is the former Founding Executive Director of the Professional Leaders Project and Chief Creative Officer for Hillel, the Foundation for Jewish Campus life where she founded over a dozen talent-based initiatives. She can be reached at rhoda@rhodaweisman.com.