Every leader knows that looking for emerging talent is a crucial leadership competency. But most leaders also believe that their plates are simply too full to be able to add talent-scouting into their busy roles.
But at the 2017 Global Leadership Summit, Bill Hybels offered a way that any leader can become a master talent scout. He called it creating “Table 18” moments.
In his talk, Bill had talked about an encounter he had experienced with a waitress at a hotel restaurant in India. Almost every day during his stay, Bill had taken his meals in the same restaurant, and had been served by this same waitress, at the same table; “Table 18”.
Bill had quickly identified in her some remarkable leadership potential, and had made a point to encourage her in her development. She would later give him a thank-you note, in which she expressed profound gratitude for his encouragement, adding that “she would remember table 18 for the rest of her life.”
Bill challenged everyone at the Summit to always look for these “Table 18” opportunities.
What does this look like in practical terms?
1. Keep Your Radar on “Full Alert” for Leadership Talent
No matter what you are doing, or where you are, maintain a “talent observation mindset”.
2. Be Aware That Talent Can Appear in the Most Unlikely of Places
Although professional headhunters might only comb the executive corridors of Fortune 500 companies, Table 18 moments can take place just about anywhere.
3. Don’t Just Notice; Respond
It’s important to notice talent, but don’t stop there. Let the person know that you have noticed their potential. A little encouragement goes a long way.
4. Remember that ‘Table 18’ Moments Are Not Just About Recruitment
It’s not just about building your own team. Table 18 moments are also about furthering the development of leadership talent regardless of where that talent goes.
5. Be Open to Follow Up Opportunities
Bill made a point of deciding to always stay in that hotel in the future, in part with the hope to follow up with this talented young person. Sometimes follow up can be as simple as sending an email of encouragement 6 months later. Don’t create co-dependency; just be prepared to find out where the story is leading.
Every leader is busy. Every leader feels that their time is at a premium. But that doesn’t mean that the important role of spotting emerging talent has to be put on the back-burner. It simply requires a fresh approach.
And weaving “Table 18” moments into your day can be a great way to start.