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by Fabrizio Verrecchia on Unsplash

If you had the opportunity to hold a conversation with some historical figure; Who would you choose?

I have no doubts; Leonardo da Vinci, the Renaissance man and the polymath par excellence, the “homo universalis” (painter, anatomist, architect, paleontologist, artist, botanist, scientist, writer, sculptor, philosopher, engineer, inventor, musician, poet, and urban planner – I hope I haven´t left anything out).

The Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) defines “polymath” as “person with great knowledge in various scientific or humanistic subjects”.

Can you imagine a conversation with such a person? Where do you think the conversation would turn? How powerful his questions would be?

And, on the professional side; What can Leonardo da Vinci teach us, to the “modern” Organizations, about Talent Management?

“Principles for the Development of a Complete Mind: Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses- especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else” – Leonardo da Vinci

Differences aside, in Talent Management slang, we could compare the Renaissance man with the T-Shaped Professionals.

The “T-Profile” refers to a professional with deep knowledge in one discipline (vertical bar of the “T”) and multiple skills and knowledge in many other disciplines (horizontal bar of the “T”).

Let´s start by the beginning:

  • What is a “I-Profile”? It is a professional with deep knowledge in one discipline (business, science, engineering …). It is what we know as a Specialist.
  • What is a “─ Profile”? It is a professional with knowledge in multiple disciplines, but without deep experience in them. It is what we know as a Generalist.

What characterize the “T-Shaped Professionals”? What benefits offer the “T-Shaped Professionals”?

  • Competences: emotional intelligence, creativity and innovation, problem solving, negotiation skills, presentations / public speaking, learning skills, effective communication, collaboration skills, digital knowledge …
  • Advantages: they have a broad vision of the business, they know how to navigate between the different levels of the organization, they adapt their communication style to the moment and audience, they can adapt more easily, versatile professionals, they shown an honest interest …

“Big innovation most often happens when an outsider who may be far away from the surface of the problem reframes the problem in a way that unlocks the solution” – David Epstein

To facilitate the transition to this Profiles; What are the Organizations doing or should be doing? And, What about the Employees?

From the Employee’s perspective

  • Cultivate curiosity. Listen, read, ask, look around you … Curiosity makes us never stop learning.
  • Accept what you don’t know. Being able to accept what you do not know is already putting you in a privileged position, since it is the first step to continue learning.
  • Embrace Uncertainty. Put fear aside, accept that there are situations out of your control, and adapt to the different stakeholders´ needs.
  • Expand your vision about the business. Participate in projects outside your area of ​​responsibility, expand your knowledge and amplify your skills.
  • Continuous learning as a way of life. Find a way to keep learning every day and make it a habit.
  • Expand your network. Knowing how to learn through others is a vital competence that gives you different perspectives.

From the Organization´s perspective

  • Encourage the growth of your employees through lateral movements. Growing is not just a matter of going up the corporate ladder; but if you want it to become a reality, you must encourage and reward it.
  • Reevaluate your professional career framework. Nowadays, professional titles (Mgr, Sr. Mgr, Director, VP …) are clearly setting a hierarchy that does not favor the previous point.
  • Establish rotation programs or assignments for short periods of time. Having the opportunity to temporarily learn from other areas, functions, and even geographic regions, broadens the vision and knowledge of our employees.
  • Implement robust and measurable observation processes or “shadowing” programs within your Talent Management plans, facilitating the learning in the different areas of the Organization.
  • Establish and implement systems that promote continuous learning throughout the full career of your employees. A system that allows them to broaden their vision and keep them updated on critical skills for their professional success.
  • Breaking down organizational silos is crucial for professionals to broaden their vision, sharing information and knowledge.

The current professional world requires new ways of thinking and different approaches to deal with the situations we are living; in addition to help the Organization to transfer transversally the existing knowledge.

What are you going to do to be your best version?

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