Talent Development and Sausage

Making sausage can be an interesting process.  It has been a long time since I personally made sausage, but there are a wide variety of sausages you can make.  Listed below are just a few of the types of sausage you can choose from:

  • Polish Sausage
  • Kielbasa
  • Bratwurst
  • Salami
  • Italian Sausage
  • Summer Sausage
  • Andouille
  • Boudin Blanc
  • Knackwurst
  • Chorizo

While this is not an exhaustive list, there are a number of varieties that are listed and they all vary in a number of ways,  Some are hot while others are mild.  Some are European while others come from the Americas.  The usage of sausage can vary also with some being more appropriate for a noon or evening meal while others are geared for breakfast.  The overall point is this; there is a wide variety in the end product and the process for producing the sausage goes a long way toward the output.

Talent Development is much like making sausage.  There are a wide variety of leaders we encounter and each of us may have to adjust our leadership style depending upon the circumstance we are confronted with.  Leadership situations may vary in the following manner:

  • Start-up
  • Shut down
  • Steady state
  • Rapid growth
  • Change
  • International expansion
  • Change in strategy

Each of the listed situations requires a different type of leadership just as each of the varieties of sausage require different preparation and ingredients.  Is there a correlation in how we might prepare leaders for the listed circumstances in a manner to how we might use different ingredients to make sausage?  The answer is a resounding yes.

The commonalities to making sausage include some type of meat.  Some sausages require more than one meat and the differentiation comes with the spices that are added.

There is a common denominator to talent development also.  The “meat” of talent development includes items such as self-awareness, communication, dealing with conflict, change management and a variety of other ingredients.  The recipe differences come when preparing leaders for the specific circumstances they might encounter.

Preparing a leader for change should include an opportunity where he or she sees and experiences change in a limited circumstance before being thrown into the mix completely.  The same goes for start up or shut down.  The key learning in talent development, especially leadership development, is the lesson of experience.  CCL has done extensive research with the Lessons of Experience and these lessons go a long way to helping the leader understand what he or she will encounter when they are at the front of the pack.

Making sausage can be a fun process, but it can also provide an opportunity for creativity.  Varying the recipe can produce a different result and the same holds true for leadership.  Each talent development situation provides an opportunity for a bit of uniqueness to add “just the right spice” for the intended outcome.

The next time you consider how to approach talent development, you just might take a page out of the sausage handbook.  Just be sure you choose the right recipe for the situation.