‘Disruptive talent’, a term coined by business psychologists OE Cam characterises a provocative breed of talented, innovative and courageous individuals who have a predication towards rejecting conventionalism.
Naturally independent, they can epitomize rebelliousness, stubbornness, and single-mindedness in their unbending and relentless pursuit of their goals, and can be supremely challenging to manage.
In a BBC radio interview earlier this year, Richard Branson said that he had the Disruptive Talent (DT) gene and urged companies to find a place for others with Disruptive Talent or risk competing with them in the market place.
With the threat of competition from disruptive talent if you fail to harness it, it is worth considering the advantages to both large and small businesses, embracing while pondering the risks from hiring disruptive talent too.
Martyn Sakol of OE Cam defined disruptive talent as “individuals who think and act differently, innovate, challenge conventional wisdom, spot trends, see commercial opportunities, and tenaciously find ways to achieve success,” but isn’t this a description that could be applied to talented leadership in general?
Branson reinforces the ubiquitous nature of this quality by categorising all entrepreneurs as DT in their thinking; he reasons that the premise behind their start-up operations automatically qualifies them for inclusion in this category.
So rather than defining a new breed of “disruptive talent”, might it be more helpful to view disruption simply as a leadership effect and viewing this effect at both the macro and micro level? Whether you’re provoking changes in the market place, or leaving an indelible impression on fellow employees in the workplace, you’re being disruptive.
In reality, the term disruptive talent is clearly being applied to those at one end of the leadership continuum, rather than providing an alternative label for collective leadership talent.
So why make the distinction at all? And why might this group be so potent and explosive in their impact?
At Coriolis, our recruitment strategy is focused around seeking 3-Dimensional Talent (3DT) to work with our clients, individuals who sit at the opposite end of the spectrum from Disruptive Talent.
Individuals with 3DT are usually passionate personalities and their engagement style engenders trust among their stakeholders. They are decisive, adaptable, pragmatic individuals who are able to modulate their leadership style to get the best out of their teams. They know how to build a compelling case; to build structure around ambiguity and secure commitment through their persuasive and influential management styles. Their high IQ’s create a platform for their mental agility, while their high emotional intelligence scores give them the edge in relationship-building.
As consultants we are advisors, so we look for talent whose influencing skills feature prominently on an individual’s DISC profile. With 90% of our team in client-facing positions and customer intimacy at the heart of our approach, disruptive talent cannot be the “face of Coriolis”.
And yet some businesses have found a way to catch these tigers by the tail and have actively pursued them. These businesses realise that integrating disruptive talent into their existing teams is a fruitless task, but crafting teams with complementary skill sets is the best approach and startling results can be achieved when successful.
A combination of high intellect coupled with low emotional intelligence and DISC profiles indicating high dominance (D) would lead to a struggle to integrate and engage in the way we need our team to at Coriolis. Disruptive talent might exhibit elements of our Leadership dimension and tick the technical expertise or Process Knowledge dimension, but fail to embrace the competencies of our Behavioural dimension.
So when is 2-Dimensional Talent more relevant in the workplace than 3-Dimensional? There is something raw about an unfiltered observation or statement. The message can be sublime because it is delivered unedited and undiluted… something many of us recoil from doing in the world of business and probably in our day-to-day lives too. Their delivery can therefore be more poignant and authentic and hence resonate more clearly with those in range for the same reason that an analog signal carries more of the tonality of the callers voice than a digital signal with its reduced range of sounds.
2D or not 2D…that is the question
Written by Mark Hyland, Coriolis Ltd