Talent Whisperer Evoking Human Transformation

A talent whisperer is an individual who possesses an ability to identify, nurture and develop talent in others. This is aided by a deep appreciation and understanding of human potential and an ability to unlock that potential. Talent Whisperers challenge and help leaders, individual contributors, organizations, and supporting processes continuously transform and evolve along their journey.

Note: This site undergoes continuous transformation to go deeper and stay current.

How does Talent Whispering relate to Horse Whispering?

A serene scene of a 'horse whisperer' gently interacting with a slightly nervous and somewhat suspicious horse in an open field.

When I was first introduced to horses by a friend, she noticed that horses somehow recognized me as not being a threat. A one point, she started taking me to barns where she had heard there were unruly horses. We’d come to a coral or stall with signs saying “Danger!” “Keep Back!” “Horse will bite and kick!” She would say, ok, do your thing. I’d walk in with the horse, and usually within about 10 minutes (sometimes longer) that horse slowly approach me and eventually nuzzle with me.

Often an owner or barn manager would storm out. They would be really upset that I had ignored the signs. They would often be upset to see this horse that had injured them and others being kind to me. After all, they fed, cared for and paid for that horse whereas I was a stranger.

I would absolutely warn that one should not try what I did with unruly, angry horses. As these managers and owners said, those powerful, angry horses could have easily killed me. There’s a complex set of issues at play with horses being both herd and prey animals which gets complicated if they’d had bad experiences with humans.

Benefits of Horse Whispering for the Horse and Trainer

A peaceful scene of a horse and trainer interacting harmoniously in a coral, with the majestic Rocky Mountains in the background

In the past, horses were made compliant by “breaking” them and breaking their spirit. Since then, a kinder approach has gained acceptance. Training horses in a kinder, more empathetic manner, as opposed to traditional “breaking” methods, offers several benefits for both the horse and the trainer:

  1. Improved Trust and Bonding: Kinder training methods foster a deeper bond and trust between the horse and the trainer. Horses trained with respect and understanding are more likely to be cooperative and form a strong, positive relationship with their handlers.
  2. Better Mental Health for the Horse: Kinder training reduces stress and anxiety in horses. Traditional breaking methods can lead to fear, mistrust, and stress, negatively impacting the horse’s mental health. Gentle training encourages a more relaxed and content horse.
  3. Enhanced Learning: Horses learn better in a stress-free environment. When they are not fearful or stressed, they are more receptive to learning new commands and skills, leading to more effective training outcomes.
  4. Long-Term Behavioral Benefits: Kinder training methods result in better long-term behavior. Horses trained gently are less likely to develop behavioral problems, such as aggression or nervousness, often seen in horses trained using harsher methods.
  5. Safety for Horse and Trainer: A horse that trusts its trainer is safer to work with. Traditional breaking can lead to unpredictable behavior, posing a risk to both the horse and the handler. Kinder methods minimize these risks.
  6. Physical Well-Being of the Horse: Gentle training methods are less physically taxing and damaging to the horse. Traditional breaking can cause physical harm, leading to both immediate and long-term health issues.

In summary, kinder horse training methods lead to a more positive, productive, and safe environment for both the horse and trainer, aligning with modern understanding of animal behavior and welfare.

Daniel Coyle’s Notion of a Talent Whisperer

A coach as a 'Talent Whisperer' interacting with a young athlete

In his book “The Talent Code,” Daniel Coyle delves into the concept of a “Talent Whisperer,” which he uses to describe a certain type of coach who possesses a unique skill set for nurturing and developing talent in others. These individuals are characterized by their exceptional ability to connect with learners and foster their skills through effective coaching techniques.

Key characteristics of a “Talent Whisperer” as described by Coyle include:

  1. Deep Communication: Talent Whisperers have a profound ability to connect with their students on a deeper level. They communicate in a way that is clear, inspiring, and tailored to the individual’s needs.
  2. High Expectations: They set high standards and challenge their students to meet them, pushing them beyond their comfort zones to achieve greater levels of performance.
  3. Tailored Feedback: Talent Whisperers provide specific, targeted feedback that is constructive and aimed at helping individuals improve specific aspects of their performance.
  4. Creating a Learning Environment: They excel at creating an environment conducive to learning and growth, where mistakes are viewed as opportunities to learn rather than failures.
  5. Understanding the Learning Process: They have a deep understanding of how learning and skill acquisition occur and are adept at guiding students through this process.
  6. Motivation and Encouragement: Talent Whisperers are skilled at keeping students motivated and encouraged, helping them maintain focus and enthusiasm for their craft.
  7. Identifying Potential: They have an eye for spotting potential in individuals and know how to nurture and develop this potential into skill and mastery.

In summary, a “Talent Whisperer,” as described by Coyle, is someone who possesses a unique blend of empathy, insight, and skill in nurturing and developing talent in others, transforming potential into mastery through effective coaching and mentorship.

Talent Whispering in relation to Leadership.

An abstract depiction of Talent Whispering in relation to Leadership, inspired by the concept of 'sell, don't tell' and influencing through love and mutual respect and leading by example

Hopefully, it’s obvious that breaking someone’s spirit to make them compliant won’t result in a fully engaged, motivated, loyal, and committed employee. I remember a recognized horse trainer telling me “I see you realize that you don’t tell a horse what to do, you ask them.” That reminded me of a saying we had at Inuit: “sell, don’t tell.” In my experience, the natural leaders can align others behind doing what’s needed without needing to be their superior in an org chart.

A few months into my first full time tech job in Munich, our HR person passed me in the hallway. She shook her finger at me and just said “Just wait, I’ll figure it out!” She had been confused how I held such influence given her background in sociology. Being, by far, the youngest in a hierarchical society, it seemed odd to her to observe it being easier for me to get folks to help with something than it was for the founder/CEO. She concluded I did it through love. She said it was clear to everyone that I would gladly help anyone in any situation and hence, they in turn seemed very happy to help me with anything I might ever need.

Servant leadership gone too far.

Servant Leadership

There has been much talk about “Servant Leadership.” I believe it can go too far if the employee or the manager believes this means the manager should be a servant to the employee. A good leader has their employee’s best interest at heart. We do our jobs in service of the employees; however, we need to think of all employees. Also, it can be in service of an employee to challenge them. I have also seen that happy employees tend to be much more productive. Have you ever fired an employee that loved what they were doing for poor performance? However, again, there is a dichotomy of leadership.

There is a difference between getting to do what you love and loving what you do. A motivated employee solving for the greater good can find love in their craft and in having meaningful impact. As leaders, it’s our responsibility to inform, empower and enable employees to love what they do.

If you revisit Daniel Coyle’s list above, you’ll see they are all things of being in service of the athlete. They are not about simply doing what the athlete wants.

Talent Whisperers in a Changing World

The world around us is changing with exponential speed. Becoming comfortable with uncertainty allows us to embrace changes around us as opportunities rather than seeing them as challenges. The leaders and individual contributors are the talent that are the lifeblood of any organization. Optimal organizational structure and processes is what enables that talent to succeed. However, it is also vital to find, on-board, enable, inspire, empower and retain that talent. That is where becoming or leveraging a Talent Whisperer comes to play.

Talent Whisperers - Evoking Human Transformation in the Age of Digital Transformation

The workplace is transitioning to being distributed, remote and global. The tools and technology at our disposal are changing so fast, that what a college student learns in the first year is out of date by the time they graduate. We can only keep up by going through continuous human transformation to adapt to the changes around us.

In this age of disruption, we must not only embrace change, but also be a catalyst of it.

This site is in service of those striving to lead, inspire, coach, guide, teach, transform, empower others to grow and develop their independent and innovative talents. This is mostly done through Blog posts, but I’m also happy to engage in genuine and sincere conversations – contact me. As a result, evoking a mindset that fosters continuous transformation. A Growth Mindset will allow us and those we lead and influence to go through Human Transformation that can keep pace with Digital Transformation and Global Transformation.

What is a Talent Whisperer?

Asking Google’s bard, the following answer came back:

A talent whisperer is an individual who possesses a unique ability to identify, nurture, and develop talent in others. They have a deep understanding of human potential and can see the hidden potential in individuals, even when others may overlook them. Talent whisperers are often described as having a “sixth sense” for talent, and they are able to connect with people on a deep level and help them to achieve their full potential.

Talent whisperers can be found in a variety of industries, including business, education, sports, and the arts. They often work as coaches, mentors, managers, or advisors, and they are passionate about helping others to succeed.

Here are some of the key characteristics of a talent whisperer:
– excellent listeners and observers.
– able to build strong relationships with others.
– able to provide constructive feedback and guidance.
– passionate about helping others to succeed.

If you are fortunate enough to encounter a talent whisperer in your life, be sure to take advantage of their guidance and support. They can help you to unlock your full potential and achieve your goals.

Talent Whisperers in the world of Generative AI

Talent Whisperers can help ensure that Human Intelligence evolves along with Artificial Intelligence. Generative AI in particular is evolving at a pace that is hard to keep up with. However, keep up we must or be left behind. Likewise, keeping talent caught up and able to leverage the new technology is also becoming increasingly critical.


Enabling Human Transformation

Talent Whisperers develop talent enabling them to keep up in a rapidly evolving world. Consequently, evoking change in individuals, teams and organizational processes and structures. Talent Whisperers transform the individuals that comprise each team, organization, and business. However, the structure and processes of an organization also need to develop to become a more effective framework for the collection of individuals to innovate and achieve success.

There’s a wealth of self-improvement information, and Perhaps you hope to become a 10xer having 10x the impact of others. You may be thinking too small, and you might find, inspire and develop ten 10xers to have a 100x impact. Finally, if you inspire ten leaders/Talent Whisperers that each develop ten 10xers and you’re talking about a 1,000x impact…

It’s said for venture funds to provide sufficient return on investment, they need the occasional unicorn. As a result, to become a $1B+ company, a 100x or 1,000x return on investment is needed. I’ve gained appreciation for this having gone through three unicorn exits and working under the “Trillion Dollar Coach.” I’ve seen many contributing factors that may, with some luck, combine to result in a unicorn exit, and Bill Campbell certainly helped develop a few unicorn leaders.

Talent Whisperers Help Foster Mindsets

Carol Dweck explains in Mindset – The New Psychology of Success

We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes
who were born different from us.
We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people
who made themselves extraordinary.”

Paul G. Stoltz tells us in his book Put Your Mindset to Work

Ability to persevere begins with you, the individual.
However, change is rarely easy. In fact, sometimes it is downright formidable.

Daniel Coyle premise in The Talent Code is that

Greatness isn’t born, it’s grown.

Liz Wiseman in “Multipliers, How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter” helps leaders appreciate how they can multiply the impact of those they lead, but she also describes ‘accidental diminishers.’ They dis-empower those we lead by not create the space, opportunity and encouragement:

Perhaps these leaders understood that the person sitting at the apex
of the intelligence hierarchy is the genius maker, not the genius.

We usually read these books for self-improvement; in contrast, we can find greater leverage by employing them to develop leadership talent in our companies and/or in the classroom as Talent Whisperers.

The Digital Skills Gap and the Future of Jobs 2020 – The Fundamental Growth Mindset

Talent Whisperers a la Google

Google questioned if managers added value, and they asked if so, how. Hence, they initiated Project Oxygen, and they Collected information from employee surveys. Google looked teams performing at different levels, who received top manager awards, performance reviews, etc resulting. They processed over 10,000 observations of managerial behavior. Challenges facing one organization and the solutions to those challenges are often unique to that organization. Consequently, Google discovered and what works for them is primarily relevant to Google, but may serve as food for thought for others.

Project Oxygen’s outcome ended with eight things great managers do:

Talent Whisperers help enable Human Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence to evolve
  1. Be a good coach.
  2. Empower; don’t micromanage.
  3. Interest in direct reports, success and well-being.
  4. Don’t be a sissy: Be productive and results-oriented.
  5. Be a good communicator and listen to your team.
  6. Help your employees with career development.
  7. Have a clear vision and strategy for the team.
  8. Have key technical skills so you can advise the team.

There are many factors contributing to building success. Sometimes, it involves finding a disruptive offering as described in Innovator’s Dilemma. Success requires iterating to solutions. and discovering what customers want as explored in the The Lean Startup. The primary focus here is on developing talent and leaders of talent.

See Also