Values Ladder with Risen

Values Ladder with Risen

What is it all about

After a (too) long break, I am back with this new post using a scene from the movie Risen.
Risen is the story of Clavius, a Roman Tribune in Judea (played by Joseph Fiennes), who is tasked with solving the mystery of what happened to Yahshua (Jesus) in the weeks following his crucifixion, in order to prevent an uprising in Jerusalem.

What do we see in this scene?

Clavius is meeting with Pontius Pilate who wants him to do his bidding and find the body of Jesus. However, before to enter the topic, Pontius wants to know what he can expect from Clavius and to do so he scales and analyses his values.


Values are states of mind and principles that are usually expressed in nominalization. They are abstract and drive our motivation and goals. Tony Robbins says they “are like a compass that directs your life”. Values motivate and demotivate, and they justify our behavior. With other words, our values are unconscious and personal principles we live by such as love, honesty and freedom.

Values elicitation

We all have values; those that attract us also called towards-values and those that rebuke us also known as away-from values. Poverty, for instance, may be an away-from value that will motivate a person towards “prosperity”.

Values, however can be hard to discern. We often tend to mix them and each of them has a personal meaning (nominalization). The way I perceive and define honesty is not necessarily the same way as you do. By eliciting our values we can better understand our drives and motivations. This can help us understand why we chose a path or took a specific decision rather than an other one. By knowing which values are really important to us, we can act accordingly and live congruently – meaning, act upon our values and our being.

By knowing other people’s values we can better understand their state of mind and reasoning, thus helping us communicate and work with them.

Values contexts and hierarchy

Our values are expressed differently in the contexts of life. We may have separate sets of values for work, home and external relationships. Some people can be very responsible at work while being childish at home. This can also relate to the question if a leader is born or nurtured. As a leader, our set of values may depend and be activated based on the requirements in a definite context.

A set of values also has a hierarchy that defines the importance of each value – a bit like Maslow’s pyramide. We often tend to believe that the one value we talk most about is the most important one. It’s often the opposite!
Like the iceberg metaphor, the one value we cherish most, is probably the first level on our values ladder.
For instance “freedom”. While some of us cherish freedom, it may be a means rather than and end. What happens once we have freedom? What do we gain with it. For some it can be time for others, the possibility to choose.

In this scene we have an excellent example of values elicitation and their hierarchy. Pontius Pilate, as well as us, do better understand what drives the Tribune.



Clavius recites his values, one by one by order of importance: Position -> Power -> Wealth -> Family…
All that in order to arrive to Peace, which seems to be the end of the road and the top of the ladder.
In this case Peace is Calvius’ core value. Core values are the most abstract if not spiritual of all values. It is not possible to go higher and in most cases each person has one top core value, which can be such as Love, Inner Peace, Oneness, Being or Self.

Knowing about our core value helps us understand what drives the other values. While peace seems a simple objective to obtain on personal level, inner peace is actually a life’s path. As Pontius Pilate says, “all that for peace… Is there no other way?”
Each person with inner peace as core value will have his own set of values that he will use to take decisions and actions in order to strive for this inner peace.

By knowing that inner peace is what drives him, Clavius can better relate to all his actions. Pilate on the other hand, understands that at the end of the day, what Clavius is looking for is inner peace and not love or oneness and that makes a big difference. Someone with love or being might have very different reasons to act, and even if both people would take the same action at a given time, the reason behind them can be very different. Inner peace for instance, is more focused on the person itself than say love or oneness that go beyond that person.

Peace hands

Core transformation

Within neuro-linguistics programming (NLP) one can learn or be assisted in combining several tools such as value elicitation and timeline to relive past experiences while knowing what is their core value, thus understanding and transforming their experience of these events. This also includes understanding better ourselves during a future given event.

Values and leadership

By leading our lives knowing what are the values driving us, we can improve the quality of our path. Leaders on the other experience it on two levels. First on themselves as individuals, and secondly, in their leadership context. By knowing about their people’s values and understanding what really makes them who they are, leaders can lead by coaching and be the one person that people really want to follow, that is, if their values are indeed compatible.

Leader’s acceptance with Snowpiercer

Leader’s acceptance with Snowpiercer

What is it all about

Snowpiercer is a science-fiction movie set in 2031 where the entire world is frozen except for those aboard the train called Snowpiercer (no surprise here). For 17 years, the world’s survivors are on a train hurtling around the globe creating their own economy and class system. Led by Curtis, a group of lower-class citizens living in squalor at the back of the train are determined to get to the front of the train and spread the wealth around.

The movie is dark, sometimes weird and totally illogical, yet it may be enjoyable watching for some of you. The movie has however one interesting scene that we’re going to study today.

What do we see in this scene?

After many fights, Curtis (played by Chris Evans) suggests he moves forward with a few people, leaving their leader Gilliam (played by John Hurt) at the back, protecting him and the wounded. This way he could more easily open a breach without fearing to lose the elder.
Gilliam however, requests from Curtis that he open his eyes and realize he is the real leader.

What do we learn from this scene?

I like this scene very much because of its atmosphere and the key learning points taught us by Gilliam.

It is said that a good leader requires different personality traits, one being humility. This scene shows us that Curtis, doesn’t put his value above others. He respects the elder and recognizes him as their leader. He comes up with suggestions believing in his competences, and gladly puts his life on the line. He doesn’t act selfishly, he’s not interested in the role of leader and instead focuses on creating a better life for all.

Gilliam has been the leader of the group for a long time. He’s getting old and doesn’t have much energy left. He also feels that he’s slowing Curtis down. By telling Curtis that he has to accept he is the new leader, Gilliam conveys the following message:

1. We lead by action, not by role. Gilliam feels he can’t lead anymore and while he holds the title of leader, it is Curtis’ actions that make the difference. This reminds me of the Native Indian leadership model where the leader is selected based on contextual needs. When there is war, a warrior is chosen to lead and in time of peace, the tribe selects a healer or builder.

2. While humility is important, acceptance may be even more so. It’s only by accepting that his people recognize him as their leader that he can fully endorse this role and have ownership and accountability over his actions.

In this case, humility can be seen as a sort of barrier; one that provides Curtis with the freedom to do as he pleases without taking into consideration the full impact of his actions. Many of his people may and will die and why he recognizes that, he doesn’t feel complete accountability for it. This simply happens through Gilliam’s approval who’s the official leader. Once Curtis understands and accepts that he bears the title of leader (without any official ceremony that is), then he also realizes that there is nobody above him to take the fall. The leader is not necessarily the one taking credit for successes, but he sure gets condemned for big failures. And while this adds an extra layer of stress on Curtis’ shoulders, it also gives him the responsibility he’s lacking up till now.


When speaking about “leader’s acceptance” we often refer to the part where a leader should accept all followers the way they are. Accept they are human, that they are irrational and can be emotional; that they have their dreams and so forth. This acceptance is a form of respect.

However, I believe a leader can only achieve this once he/she accepts being the one leading the flock. That means accepting the burden and responsibilities bestowed on oneself (or delegated if preferred) by fellow people. Accepting that he/she is the one chosen to lead and take the difficult decisions for all the others. As Lolly Daskal writes in one of her posts: “Acceptance is not about passivity, detachment, inaction, or being powerless.”

Storytelling, Jelly and Ant-man

Storytelling, Jelly and Ant-man

What is it all about

Ant-man is the story of cat burglar Scott Lang who has just been released from prison after committing burglary. He has been prohibited to see his daughter due to his inability to provide financial support. This has led him to do one more job, which we will learn was organized by scientist Hank Pym. Together, they must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world. Armed with an armor that provides him the astonishing abilities to control ants and shrink in scale yet keep his strength, Scott must embrace his inner hero and learn to become the man he always wanted to be; one that can be trusted. Ant-man is an extremely enjoyable movie worth watching.

What do we see in this scene?

Scott really needs money and decides to go hunt for a new job. He asks his friends for some details and then he gets this crazy answer. This is a very funny scene to watch, especially when you personally know someone that communicates this way.

So, how does this relate to leadership? Let’s find out!

What do we learn from this scene?

Leadership is about inspiring and ultimately influencing people. That storytelling is one of the most important skills in the leader’s skillset and that the right anecdote can be worth a thousand theories is nothing new. Many books have been written on the subject and the short video below by David Hutchens details it perfectly.

Alexander Mackenzie who’s an associate at the The Praxis Centre for Leadership Development explains that a story aims to deliver on three levels:

Inform, Engage and Inspire.

Telling a good and fun story is one thing, but telling a story that engages, inspires and most importantly informs… is another story.

Too much jelly in the story

Andy Bounds who helps business leaders all over the world to communicate better developed the Jelly Effect concept. In a nutshell, there is a minimum and maximum of information required to communicate effectively. Superficial content on top of it may have a negative effect on the desired result of the message communicated.

The following video provides basic insight in the so called Jelly Effect.

Lost in the story

Time to get back to the Ant-man video we were going to study. This scene is the perfect example of too much jelly destroys the message. It’s fun, full of anecdotes, and the storytelling is perfectly mastered. However, when we try to remember the important points we may remember baseball, boobs and maybe something else (was he talking about a safe?).

Luis, magistrally played by Michael Peña, teaches us what storytelling shouldn’t be. Whether Luis is a leader or not doesn’t really matter. If storytelling is used as a mean to convey information and influence people to do something then storytelling should remain the vehicle and not the goal itself.

It is no surprise that leaders who use anecdotes and short stories to describe a situation or convey a message think it through and write it on paper before they make their speech.

So, next time you want to tell a story think about Luis and when you wish to communicate about something get rid of the jelly.

And just in case you’re actually a fan of jelly like me, I then invite you to discover the Gintama animation, which is the ultimate king of all jellies and an extraordinary teacher in leadership! (you’re warned)

Authenticity with Katniss Everdeen

Authenticity with Katniss Everdeen

What is it all about?

The Hunger Games is a science fiction adventure film based on the novel of the same name. The story takes place in the dystopian nation of Panem which consists of a wealthy, glamorous Capitol, ruling twelve poorer districts. As punishment for a past rebellion and as a way to quell social unrest, each district must provide two “Tributes” — one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 selected by lottery (the “Reaping”) — every year to compete in the televised Hunger Games; they must fight to the death in a vast arena, with the sole survivor rewarded with fame and wealth. In this third part of the story Titles Mockingjay, after winning twice the game, Katniss manages to flee and join the rebellion in the 13th district.

What do we see in this scene?

During her time as a contestant in the Hunger Games, Katniss became the most loved player. Her aptitudes, personality and authenticity brought her many fans, which has led her into becoming the face on the rebellion. While the context is different, we have seen the same idea in the movie Edge of Tomorrow with Rita becoming the face of the military.

Now that Katniss has officially and physically joined the rebellion, it is important to make it known around the other districts and rally everyone under the same banner. This will help bolster morale within the troops and civilians. In an attempt to do so, they decide to develop a short movie showing her call to arms. If we dig a little bit deeper, watching the movies or reading the books, we discover that the heart of the story lies in the sympathy created around the protagonist through her simplicity and authenticity. Which leads us to the topic of the day: Authentic Leadership.

As stated in a previous post, personal leadership brand is what conveys your identity and distinctiveness as a leader. One can create a “leader image” by externalizing specific values through behavior, dressing code and leadership style.

What do we learn from Katniss

First of all, Katniss is the perfect example of a contextual leader. She never wanted to lead, however to save her sister’s life she had no other choice than taking her place in the games. Throughout the games she received help from several people who provided her with opportunities to shine, putting her natural qualities in the spotlight. One can learn more about his own personality and aptitudes by being surrounded by the right people. (Some CEO’s and politicians still have to learn this lesson)

A leader is someone who people want to follow, and the objective of her supporting team was to help her create an aura that will assist her in gathering followers and supporters. From the games to the rebellion, Katniss was nurtured into becoming the savior everyone waited for. While being trained, different ideas and philosophies were pushed on her, but it’s only when she’s herself that her magic works.

While building her leadership brand, her team didn’t really take into account Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood’s five steps plan. Or at least they failed to see point (5); which should be kept in mind from the start.

1. What results do you want to achieve in the next year?
2. What do you wish to be known for?
3. Define your identity
4. Construct your leadership brand statement, then test it.
5. Make your brand identity real

Katniss teaches us two very important lessons:
1. A leader is not just a static image of an avatar or an ideal person forged by someone else. You learn to lead and may become a leader by forging your skills with the help of others. Katniss is only effectively leading when on the field; politics on the other hand is not her forte.
2. Leaders have to be congruent and walk the talk. They may pretend to lead, but once they have to take an important decision, the truth will come out. There are of course different ways to start leading people, whether in the army, in politics or in business, however in most cases authenticity is one of the key traits that will inspire people to follow that person.
Though I haven’t read all the books yet, I can definitely say that this third movie focuses all it’s energy on promoting that trait, which honestly becomes tiring and “not so authentic anymore”…

Whereas we call it authentic leadership, authenticity is an intrinsic trait of a leader; hence using authentic as an adjective for leadership is a pleonasm; same as burning fire. (leadership is one of those words with many redundant adjectives). For more examples on leadership branding please refer yourself to this post.

While we do write here about leadership, authenticity is a valuable trait to have in all our day to day activities.


Interesting links

What Is Authentic Leadership?
10 Things Authentic Leaders Do
Authentic leadership


Build a personal leadership brand with Ramses

Build a personal leadership brand with Ramses

What is it all about?

Exodus Gods and Kings is the latest loose interpretation of the biblical story of Moses and the Hebrews leaving Egypt. The story revolves around Moses who started as a general and member of the Egyptian royal family an ended as a prophet, a rebel and the savior of the Hebrews.

What do we see in this scene?

The Hebrews (known today as Jews), were slaves under the Egyptian rule, an endeavor that doesn’t come without its share of trouble. This scene is actually composed of two parts. In the first one we see king Seti I ruling the kingdom. He listens to his ministers and their complaints about issues related to the slaves. He then commands his son Ramses to go meet with the Viceroy Hegep, who oversees the Hebrews.

In the second part we see Moses and Ramses talk about what happened earlier and Moses offers to go instead of his cousin.

Leadership brand

In the Harvard Business Review Norm Smallwood defines personal leadership brand as what conveys your identity and distinctiveness as a leader.

In this context, a leadership brand could be understood as an approach to brand oneself as a leader. The brand we put forward defines and is defined by the personality traits and competences we have or wish to be known for.

The same author who coined the term also wrote that Leadership brand is a reputation for developing exceptional managers with a distinct set of talents that are uniquely geared to fulfill customers’ and investors’ expectations.

This clearly indicates that there are two distinct levels to leadership brand. A first one on personal level, that we will discuss in this article and where one builds his own leadership brand and another on company level that we will present further in a future article. Whereas many managers and leaders tend to focus on their personal leadership aptitudes and image, other companies go beyond and focus on building a more general leadership capability.

How does this scene relate to building one’s leadership brand?

During the conversation between Seti I and his son Ramses we notice there is a different perception of what a Pharaoh should do as a leader. These differences directly influence the type of leadership but also the brand and personal positioning as leader for each one of them. In the second part we deepen our comparison between Ramses and Moses. Therefore, this brief scene gives us an image of 3 dissimilar leaders with very different aura’s.

Leadership brand

Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood came up with five steps to build a personal leadership brand.

1. What results do you want to achieve in the next year?
2. What do you wish to be known for?
3. Define your identity
4. Construct your leadership brand statement, then test it.
5. Make your brand identity real

In this post we will focus on collateral details that reflect and influence a leader’s brand.

What are the 3 leadership brands?

We will compare the three characters in the scene to better understand what leadership brand means and how it can be used.

Part 1 of the scene

Seti I

Seti is the actual Pharaoh and father of Ramses II. He’s not only a king, but also a god in the midst of men. This puts him in a position of might and control. His word is command and he has a very directive application for it. Seti I used to be an army general with great military success, but today he uses his experience, facial expression (look at his eyes) and plain but harsh words to convey his messages. As Pharaoh his words are command but also wisdom from the gods. Where two kings are not alike, their title “entitle” them to be above other people.

Seti wears white and gold as is expected from his status of Pharaoh (though it’s historically missing some parts). He holds both his hands in a wide position on the two lion heads of his throne. He’s sitting comfortably, almost nonchalantly but his hands don’t change position. This rigidity conveys power, determination and resolution. His body is stiff and all attention is focused on his face.

By stating in a disparaging way that all this (Egypt) will be owned by Ramses someday, he reveals contempt for his son who shows little interest in what’s happening in the kingdom and has a lazy approach to changing his behavior. Many CEO’s started at the bottom of a company and experienced all the necessary steps to gain enough wisdom to become the top leader. When one is born as crown prince and chosen successor, that same person may find it dishonoring to pass through all these steps. Seti I was a great Pharaoh who was loved by the Egyptian people. He demonstrated strength and determination through the capacity to restore the Egyptian empire after it had been lost in the time of Akhenaten. In this scene, years later, while preparing his succession, Seti tries to teach his son to be a little bit more like him. This part reveals as described by Ulrich and Smallwood that most leaders focus on developing leadership within a single person rather than within the organization itself (which will be the focus of a future article).


Even though Seti I was considered a great king by his peers, his fame in history has been overshadowed by that of his son, Ramses II. Yet, in most movies about the Exodus, Ramses is depicted as a vengeful antagonist ever scornful of his father’s preference for Moses.

In this film, Ramses is first and foremost a warrior who likes to be in the spotlight. Large and strong he lives with self-adoration. This can for example be seen by the way he dresses – more gold than white, or how he holds the snakes in the second part. In the first part of the scene we easily notice his lack of interest for politics (while his dad is alive) and the idea to visit the Viceroy simply reviles his mind. His facial expressions are more of a bored simpleton than those expected from a future king. He knows he isn’t really loved and therefore is looking for comfort inside himself.


Moses is the cousin of Ramses; he’s a member of the royal family but doesn’t wear the burden to become the next Pharaoh. We see very little of him in this first part, but what we do detect indicate concern. Whereas Ramses seems to wake up when his father talks to him, Moses listen very carefully to everything that is said and weights the words. It already reflects his wisdom. In this scene, but also later on we notice that Moses wears dark military clothes. No gold and nothing that represents his royal blood. Today people in a leadership position weight more than others the importance of what they wear and some prefer jeans while others will always be dressed in a business suite or in black. Clothes are a good indicator to measure the image one wants to reflect. In this case, Moses keeps it simple. He’s a general that does what has to be done and thinks before acting.

Part 2 of the scene

The second part starts with Ramses holding a snake with what seems to be a self-pity face or at least he’s lost in his thoughts. Moses then comes offering to go visit the Viceroy. When Moses tells him it’s beneath him, Ramses responds that it’s beneath any general. This basically means that it’s even beneath Moses and if he shouldn’t do it then why would the great Ramses go? He doesn’t see any value in this visit and considers it a total waste of his time. If we dig deeper, we can also find fear coming from Ramses, for he is no people person. Fighting and winning on a battlefield increases his reputation and aura, but talking and influencing people is not his forte and puts him out of his comfort zone. Ramses shows very little empathy towards his people or any interest to include the rest in his future reign. While we each lead our life, leadership is an energy which is focused outwards, meaning towards other people, and this indicates a lack of understanding coming from Ramses. Rather than improving the life of others he indulges in hedonism. As a future king, Ramses shows very little affinity to being a leader. While he loves the title, he finds the tasks and responsibilities troublesome. That is why he let Moses take his place; delegating is indeed also part of leading.

Next, Moses asks Ramses to forget about what happened on the battlefield. Moses saved there his life and he’s afraid that Ramses will become even more resentful. Ramses knows his father likes Moses more, and being saved by that same person is hard to accept. We all want to be the hero and in this case the Pharaoh should be the savior, not the opposite. There’s another reason to it related to what a priestess said, but it’s of little importance in this context. Ramses then belittles Moses action by saying he would have done the same and that his shot was guided by the gods. A great leader is someone who inspires people to be the best they can even greater than the leader himself – here again, Ramses shows he still has a lot to learn.

Then comes the venom part. Kings and nobles were always afraid to get poisoned by enemies and therefore consumed daily little quantities of venom or poison to get their body used to it and reduce the risk of dying from an assassination. Here Ramses talks on multiple levels. Again, he puts his life first. People who used these practices tended to be despots rather than protectors. People who felt their actions would implicate reactions of detractors. Rather than leading inclusively, they force their decisions on others and live with the expectations of a backlash. Ramses first explains that a little venom is good, it protects you from danger, but it also forges character. He confides here that he perceives his father actions as poison. Whereas Seti I wanted to forge Ramses’ leadership by sending him talk with the Viceroy, Ramses perceives it as treachery, a way to again put him in a position of contempt. At the same time he tells Moses to be careful not to play with his own poison. On a more metaphysical aspect stating that a little bit of venom in the blood is a good thing, means that having some evil within can be beneficial and getting accustomed to it could be a life-saver, yet aren’t we what we eat?, which basically suggests that the food one eats has a bearing on his state of mind and health.

Moses on the other side, is intelligent yet simple. He understands people and realizes he’s one of them. He also love his cousin and don’t require scheming to have a task done, but doesn’t shy from using a ploy when needed.

As most movies require an antagonist once again Ramses II, also known as Ramses The Great, gets portrayed as a feeble yet belligerent mind with a strong desire for acknowledgment, thus providing us with a scene that is well suited to differentiate between leaders.

To summarize:

Seti I is a loved king who is determined to restore the power of Egypt. Strong, dedicated and experienced he realizes the importance of all stakeholders and pushes his son to become a true leader by taking responsibility, becoming accountable and learn to go out of his comfort zone.

Ramses is a physically strong, yet scornful prince who lacks interest in others and live for himself. Ramses has no real plan or never thought what it means to lead people, instead he needs to prove his existence using physical evidences such as shiny clothes, wars and architectural marvels (as Pharaoh).

Moses is a good listener and wise beyond his years. He’s a strong general and he knows he’s not destined to rule. Therefore he forges himself a role of counselor to help his cousin become a great Pharaoh. Wearing dark colors, he positions himself as an outsider to the crown, but high enough to lead the rest. Moses also accepts to depreciate himself if it can soothe Ramses’ anger. Counselors are often the voice of reason behind powerful people who sometimes forget what they are. They are also often the real power behind the important decisions.

So what did we learn on personal leadership brand?

To build a brand you need a vision of who you want to be and where you want to go. It helps inspire people in following when one can show that his deeds and decisions lead to a greater vision. Ramses has no clear plan yet and therefore can’t lead his people to success.

However, as the saying goes: the Devil is in the details, and to be congruent one has to express continuously what he tries to promote. Clothes, behavior, facial expression and competences are all important because they are the mortar that keep your bricks standing!

Hence, learn to build you brand by forging on values showed by Moses and by reflecting on how not to become Ramses, without forgetting what Seti said: The world will one day be yours, take interest in it!

How about you? What are the “idiosyncrasies” that reflect your personal leadership brand?


Related training and consulting companies

RBL Group


Interesting links

Leadership Brand Interview
5 Questions To Help You Define Your Leadership Brand
Have you defined your leadership brand?
Create your leadership brand
Personal Branding: It’s Not About Self-Promotion, It Is a Leadership Imperative


Recruit with The Judge

Recruit with The Judge

What is it all about?

Recruitment is one of the major activities that pertains to Human Resources and more specifically to Talent Management. Many of you will remember the enlistment session by the Men in black in the eponymous movie (MIB), which thought us that having a solid balance between brain and guts may bring us far; and running fast may help us even more. Today, I chose for a less expected movie as analogy for this topic. The judge is an intriguing story about big city lawyer Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) who returns to his childhood home where his father, the town’s judge, is suspected of murder.

What do we see in this scene?

The movie is poignant, the story and acting is of high caliber and yet, there’s actually not much worth noticing about the topic of the day: recruitment. That is, till we get to this one short and almost stealthy passage. In this act, Hank has to assemble (recruit) his ideal jurors. People he can more easily sway to his side of the story. His approach is what makes this part worthwhile to analyze.

Talent, competence, skill and recruitment

Recruitment refers to the overall process of attracting, selecting and appointing suitable candidates for paid or voluntary jobs within an organization, either permanent or temporary. All steps require their own planning and actions. In this post we will focus on select and appoint.

Employees are recruited based on the added-value they can bring to the company. This includes the skills, competences and other know-how that will support the company’s vision, mission and strategy. But what does it mean? Let us start by defining talent, competences and skills to understand the difference.

Comprehending the nuance between these three words is not as simple as expected. I’ve been searching for an answer in books and on the internet to find out that most people use them interchangeably. Moreover there are different perceptions for each of these words.

We will use the following definitions for the rest of the post:
Skill: Proficiency, facility, or dexterity that is acquired or developed through training or experience.
Competence: A cluster of related abilities, commitments, knowledge, and skills that enable a person to act effectively in a job or situation.
Talent: A special and often innate ability that allows someone to do something well.

Both Skills and competences are considered “tangible” and measurable. We can indeed compare the skill level between two php or c++ programmers. Many programmers also add a score for their skills in their personal website (which I do too, here). In order to grasp programming, learn additional programming languages and improve its coding, a programmer requires an underlying set of competences such as analytic, logical and interpretive abilities. If a programmer becomes a team leader he will require an additional set of managerial skills as well as behavioral and professional competences. These can be measured (somewhat) and taught.

Talents however are something else. A talent is neither a skill, nor a competence. It is a combination of “je ne sais quoi” and original abilities that make a person naturally good at something.

A talented programmer will for instance have a naturally logical mind, be at ease with mathematics and understand algorithms the way others won’t. A talent could be seen as a personal and unique way to perceive something and be well aware of how it works and can be used. Talent is not measurable, because of its uniqueness. Talented people are rapid learners in their respective field; however, their talent should also be nurtured. While talented people have a head start, without practice and honing their skills they will lose ground to those who day after day put everything they have to improve.

Coming back to recruitment

Today, more than ever, we hear HR talk about talent management and talent development and hence the question: are we talking about talent, competence or skill?

In order to enroll someone, recruiters require benchmarks and measurables. We use resumes to measure the quality of a candidate. University degrees, years of experience and past employers are numbers and titles used to compare one candidate to another. As we’re talking about measurables, it also means that we compare skills and competences, or at least the perception we have built for each candidate. But what about talent then? Where does it come in?

Moreover, we shouldn’t limit recruitment to employees. We do recruit allies, partners and even friends and while the objective, purpose and processes are somewhat different, the underlying fact is that we recruit whom we want or need to spend time with.

How does this scene relate to the recruitment?

The first part of the video compares the perception of the ideal juror between Hank and his father. While morality is important, we notice that the main difference lies in the fact that the judge looks for competences (capable listeners and analytic), whereas Hank is looking for crackpots, moon-landing deniers, etc.

With other words, he is not interested in competences and prefers to focus on eccentricity and foolishness which are personality traits and in this case deviations from established norms. These are neither skills, nor competences and even less talents and yet this distinction is what makes them useful in this context.

People work with people and we are all “not that different” as many personality tests are there to attest. That is why recruiters also use profiling models to measure and categorize the personality or behavior of candidates.

Measuring everything about a person may give a semblance of apprehending that person and yet, more we delve into the numbers and less we see…

In the second part of the act Hank asks the question and the jurors respond to it.


What can we learn from Hank?

In our western society we tend to present ourselves by what we are rather than who we are.
Hi, my name is Hank and I’m a lawyer… And then, as a second step what we do: as a lawyer I can help you with
A more personal example would be: I’m Hank and I’m a father of 2.
Basically, we are or at least promote ourselves as labels.

Hank understands what makes a person tick and he uses it to his advantage. As an experienced lawyer he also has a knack for assessing people and in this case the quality of the juror with one simple yet unexpected question. “Bumper stickers… What do they read?”

The purpose of this question is to learn more about the people, by getting out of the labels’ comfort zone: who they are, what they like and how they think. While it doesn’t focus on values, morality, aptitudes or directly involves personality traits, it puts people at ease and gives them a way to tell a very short story about themselves. The bumper sticker is an extension of each juror and without even realizing it they each tell about who they are and not what they are. The words are flowing out.

Asking the perfect question is important, however, how to ask is yet another story. In this act, Hank asks the question in a blatantly nonchalant way, just the opposite of his father’s suggestion: “subtlety and a velvet touch”. He doesn’t conceal the fact he needs information and sounds unconcerned yet emphatic when actually asking the details. He made it so that people feel comfortable responding even if at the beginning there is hesitation as to why this odd question.

I recall the recruitment processes for both my first and second job. In both cases I was positioned or positioning myself as the junior with potential. In both cases I got the job, not due to the competences or skills I already had, or for those I would be able to develop, but because I had personal experiences that made me view the job from a different perspective. Through a couple of questions, the recruiter gave me the opportunity to tell about who I am using my own stories and anecdotes.

I am a member of an international organisation called Junior Chamber International ( JCI ); together we developed in Brussels a campaign to help unemployed young graduates find a job. The campaign is called (Y)Our Future and we deliver CV assessments, inspirational talks and coaching sessions to help young professionals find a job in these times of crisis. What I realized during these events is that in our society we do not lack skills. We do not lack competences and we don’t even lack talent. What we do however lack is introspection; asking ourselves what we can and what we want to do – which directs us back to the previous post about Flow.

Hank teaches us that:

While this is important in recruitment or when looking for a job, asking ourselves and to the others about who they are rather than what they are can make a big difference and provide a better understanding. It open new horizons, is uplifting, honest and develops better relationships. By selecting the people he needs, Hank guarantees that the message he conveys will be understood, and while it may be perceived as manipulation it also means there is a connection between the jurors and himself.

The companies below are actual people I trust (in Belgium and around), whom, with the use of different disciplines can help you learn and develop the skills and competences needed to ask the right questions in the best way possible, whether towards others or to yourself (introspection will be one of the next topics).

How about you? Do you have experiences to share or people you know who can help us learn from? Please do share.


Related training and consulting companies

Gloabl NLP
Wide Circle
Geerkens Consulting
Inside Out Coaching & Training
Tangram Management

Interesting links

Will be updating later also based on your suggestions.