The Business X Factor

Talent reality shows like ‘The X Factor’ are all about discovering people who have an exceptional ability but have never been in the position to display their talent.  These show have created a platform for people to display their abilities, while the audience is drawn in by stories of participants overcoming challenges and adversity.

My favorite X Factor story is that of Paul Potts, a mobile phone sales man, who won the 2009 edition of Britain’s Got Talent (also check out Sung-Bong Choi in X factor Korea and Emmanuel Kelly in X factor Australia and be ready to be blown away).

I recently had the opportunity to spend two weeks with senior heads of a leading company in Saudi Arabia. We had a chance to speak about ‘mining talent’. During this conversation Zaki Al Baggal, an engineering division head, shared a story in which one of his direct reports, a senior engineer, was asked to make a presentation to top management. This senior engineer, worked on the presentation for some time, but Zaki felt it was not coming together (the content, flow and the information on the slides were one big mess). With the deadline looming Zaki became increasingly nervous and asked his senior engineer to re-work the entire presentation.

Soon after, the senior engineer presented his revised version and it was perfect; it was well articulated and well structured. When he asked his senior engineer what had changed, Zaki was told that Baleegh, a young and shy engineer in the team (who until that moment had not featured on Zaki’s talent screen) was the one responsible for this brilliant presentation. Till then he had displayed mediocre performance and had never stood out the way he did now.

The senior engineer proposed that since this was Baleegh’s hard work, they should let him present his work to the top management himself. Zaki was unsure about the exposure and the risk but at the end relented. Baleegh presented and he did an amazing job. The top leader thanked him and publicly recognized Baleegh and his recommendations were accepted and implemented.

Ever since that presentation, Baleegh has transformed into a star performer and has become one of the key members of the team; always involved in various task forces as well as the most important projects in the team.

Stars can be everywhere; it’s about finding them, building their confidence, supporting them and giving them an opportunity.

Let’s start our own Business’s X Factor. Share and send your stories of talent that you have discovered. Of team members that were lying dormant, waiting to be discovered in the depths of the organization, and by chance (or luck) had the opportunity to perform, deliver and shine, never looking back.

Lets find our own Business’s X Factor stars.

– Paul Keijzer

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One thought on “The Business X Factor

  1. What a pity! There are many hidden Baleeghs around us whom we fail to recognize or simply don’t like to extend an opportunity for them to come forward and show their talents. We are incapable, insecure freaks who know nothing but just how to stick to our seats; by hook or crook. Workplace politics has dominated to such an extent that it has over shadowed all the values, principles and even humanity. I have, personally seen many BIG companies that people dream to work for, turning out a nightmare once they enter them with an aim to further polish their skills and talents and soon end up losing all what they already had. The so called “learning platforms” instead play the role of “talent shedders”. Many capable resources are then found sitting on computers all day doing that clerical work which can be done by any Tom and Harry.

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