One of the most important decisions companies make is whom they name manager. Unfortunately, a new survey by the Gallup organization reveals that only one in ten people possess the talent to manage.

A report by Amy Adkins in the Gallup Business Journal (April 13, 2015) suggests organizations usually get it wrong: Companies fail to choose the candidate with the right talent for the job 82% of the time. That’s a pretty discouraging statistic.

What does Gallup define as the talent to manage? Gallup defines talent as the natural capacity for excellence. They have studied the behavior of high performers in every imaginable role, from elite military personnel and teachers to bank tellers and truck drivers. With every role studied, Gallup has found one unwavering truth: Successful people have similar talents. And managers are certainly no exception.

Gallup describes manager talent using five “talent dimensions”:

  1. Motivator
  2. Assertiveness
  3. Accountability
  4. Relationships
  5. Decision-Making

These five dimensions of manager talent are the greatest predictors of performance across different industries and types of manager roles (such as general manager, field manager and team manager).


An organization’s level of talent directly affects its bottom line. Gallup’s research reveals strong correlations between talent and business outcomes such as profitability, sales and productivity.

This makes sense. In the work I do in organizations, I find that when managers have the right talent for their role, they’re energized by their work, rarely thinking of it as “work” at all. For others whose talent is not the best fit, the same work can feel draining. Talent is the stabilizer: It paves the way for consistently excellent performance.

Of course, the big question is how do you acquire talent. Some people say it’s innate, you’ve either got it or not. But I say that sometimes it gets buried under the stress of the job. I’ve seen coaching bring out the “natural talents” of some managers. What do you think? What’s been your experience with managers?

I’d love to hear from you. You can contact me here or on LinkedIn.