Last week I blogged about how one should hire for attitude, not skills. My post prompted a few emails from readers, and it got me thinking not just about skills vs attitude, but about skills vs talent. What exactly is the difference between attitude and talent? For the definitive answer, I went to my dictionary.
Attitude vs talent
An attitude is a mental position, a feeling, or an emotion with regard to a fact or state.
A talent is a special often athletic, creative, or artistic aptitude.
So, an attitude is a state of mind, a talent is an aptitude, so innate or a natural ability which is inborn.
Last week, when I talked about skills vs attitude, I said that skills were teachable and attitude isn’t, and I still stand behind that statement. When I compare talent to attitude though, talent, for the most part, is even more intrinsic than attitude. At least a person can choose to change their attitude; but talents are there from birth and so while they can be honed and enhanced, they cannot be acquired over time.
Skills vs talent
So it got me thinking about skills vs talent. According to my definitions, skills are teachable, but talents aren’t. Or wait a minute … are they? A leader’s job is to effect change in people, by creating an environment in which people will choose to change. If skills can be learned but talent is inherent, then as leaders, we should always assume that everything our employees are required to do are skills. Because this assumption allows our employees to believe that the changed behaviour can be learned. If we assume that the behaviours we desire are talents, then there is no room for people to learn.
This sounds circuitous, so let me explain why the skills vs talent notion is important. Continue reading