Talent leadership can be understood as playing to strenghts of people, focusing on what makes them unique and leveraging those unique talents to the well-being of the individual and the company.  In our research (Veestraeten & Leroy, 2012) we have looked at those factors and identified that these talent leaders are characterized by a mindset of (1) positivity, (2) trust, and (3) learning. In other words, these leaders expect the most and the best of people (believing in their potential), they are willing to give their followers the benefit of the doubt, and believe that followers are benefited by personal development. In many ways this confirms the transformational leadership model with components as  intellectual stimulation and individualized consideration.

What talent or transformational leadership doesn’t take into account is how to match all talents, strengths, empowered people together. Organisations may end up with a lot of team conflicts when all people are empowered in their individuality. How to match all pieces of the puzzle to form an integrated and a well-functioning whole? To do this requires not only a leader who is able to handle this cognitive and psychological complexity, it also requires a leader who is willing to take a step back and facilitate. It is not a leader that is charismatic or transformational, but more of a leader who is willing to let others be pro-active.

Grant and Hoffman (2011) show that introverted leaders build better teams when team members are pro-active. Nishii & Mayer (2009) showed that inclusive leaders (leaders who do not differentiate between followers) leverage the effects of diversity on group performance. More recently, Nishii & Leroy (2012) show that authentic leadership (a leader who is both honest and humble) promotes a climate for inclusion, again leveraging diversity. To conclude: maybe talent leadership should not be about repacking empowerment but about repacking diversity management.

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