Leadership vs. talent

Leadership vs. talent

In business, leadership and talent have different functions: one inspires and the other is a practical strategist.

* Written by María Elena Platas, a headhunter and specialized coach in talent development and executive search for management levels. She is an associate in Caldwell Partners.


Can anyone explain to me what´s the big fuzz about leadership?

To begin with, I am shocked that everyone presumes shortage of and the myths surrounding it:

– “Oh my, what little leadership there is in industry, in politics, with millennials!”

– “A leader is vital in every position.”


– “A leader is necessary but he also needs to follow orders, adapt to a budget and treat the team with kindness.”

In business, the leader and the talented have different functions: one inspires and the other is a practical strategist.

Leadership vs. talent

Enough with this, really… I´ve heard to much about it!

I understand companies want motivated, committed, loyal, capable of influencing and contributing people, but having all these traits are not necessarily a part of the “talented” package.

How is this?

Let’s say that if leadership and talent were teammates in a basketball, leadership would be the star player: charismatic, good looking and agility, however, he is 2 meters tall.

Therefore, the talent would be the member of the team that has been playing since he knows how to throw a ball, trains daily, assists his teammates and have a better marksmanship than the others.

Everyone has a definition of leadership, but we all agree that the concept is mainly emotional.

A leader, from my point of view, is someone who allows himself to have autonomous thinking, challenge the status quo, is not afraid to take risks and to reach his goals even in the most unorthodox ways. In addition, a leader has a great charisma and capability to convince people to join the project that he is “in love” with, receiving challenge with arms wide open.

Leadership results an attractive feature because not everyone has it.

Can you imagine the chaos that companies would have if 80% of their employees were leaders? Agreeing would be impossible and even getting the job done.

The real differences

So, what are the clearest evidences in a natural leader? The answer: the amount of talented people following him/her.

The talented are “in love” with the results, their preparation and the knowledge they can generate. Without the talented, there is literally no business.

They are practical strategists who manage the structure, the times and standards to witness a continuous improvement. The contribution that the talented make is much more important than the one of the leader because is tangible.

Another important factor to consider is that the talented has the ability to succeed regardless of the emotional connection with the task.

If the talented are put in front of a good-term project where they are the experts, an empowerment will be seen in them.


The talented may not follow the leader because of his great charisma, but because of his knowledge and ability to understand the subtler requirements of the task and succeed.

The talented is the one who collaborate with people who complement his area of ​​knowledge, supports and advises the leader who validates it by relying on his abilities.

Therefore, my recommendation is to analyze very well what trait is required in each position, providing the right environment to highlight them while offering and multiplying their tools could be key to help you find the difference in each person.

Train, develop and retain talent; inspire and challenge leadership. I dare you.

  • Read more from Maria Elena Platas here.

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