Hire and Retain Difference-Making Top Talent

I brought in thought-leader Severin Sorensen to speak to my CEO peer group today. Severin really inspires me personally, and true to form, he really wowed the group.

When you hire difference-making top talent, Severin contends, you’ll see the following:

  • Lift: They consistently provide more “lift” for an organization than weight. (Think revenue contribution vs salary, for example.)
  • Three Promotions: After hiring, you’ll find you can promote them up to three times. (That’s Severin’s definition of a distinctly talented individual.) Over time they grow and provide ongoing contributions to your organization.
  • Values Alignment: Top talent will by their nature have a value set that aligns with your organization. Look for self-taught and lifelong learners. People who demonstrate accountability. Passionate curious individuals. And don’t forget factors like ‘speed’ and people who get stuff done.
  • Clutch players. Top talent delivers in high-pressure situations.

Importantly, Severin reminded us, top talent shows up in the interview the way they show up in the workplace. Interviewers should ask behavioral questions that get to the heart of the candidate’s values, not just skills. For example this: “Tell me about the absolute worst failure in your past, what you learned from it, and how your passed failure informed your life since this event.” (Did anyone else get sweaty palms thinking about the answer to this question or is it only me?) Here’s another: “Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks.” These kind of behavior-based questions illuminate the heart of the candidate.

After getting us clearly focused on WHAT to look for in a top talent candidate, Severin provided us a flood of options on HOW to find him or her.

I think each one of the CEOs in my CEO peer group walked away with a handful of really juicy ideas to implement in the days and weeks ahead.

Aloha and best regards,


Comments are closed