Guest post: Big Ideas To Help Purple Talent Flourish

Written by Caroline Dove of Success Inspired Partners, and inspired by the excellent book, Secrets & Big News, by Kate Nash:

I’ve decided to be bold and implement one of Kate Nash’s Big Ideas from Secrets & Big News (S&BN) straight away.  Kate’s proposal that we consider a more workable label to neatly flag when we are talking about disability, long-term ill health or managing an impairment has struck a chord.  So, in an attempt to keep my word count to a reasonable level and to road-test how Kate’s term Purple Talent (and its other close relatives) could offer a way to ease communication, let’s go for a short adventure together.  Our goal in this adventure is to explore and reflect on some of the key ideas proposed in the chapters on Big Ideas for Employers and Employees.  I’ll try not to go off onto tangents but can’t promise as S&BN has really triggered some new thinking in my work as a Coach, Trainer and Leadership Development geek.

Before we set off, please try for a moment to sit back and imagine an organisation where there is transparent communication between managers and their team members.  Possibly at times uncomfortable if something needs to be said, this communication always has the intention to benefit individuals, their teams and the organisation they all contribute to.  There is a clear Purple Route-Map.  This of is an enjoyable place to work where people are celebrated for their unique and special contributions yet also know how to operate as closely-knit, high performing teams that create long term success in all areas of the balanced organisational scorecard (i.e. Financial, Customers, Operations and People).

Who wouldn’t want to work here?  The latest employee engagement survey revealed high levels of motivation and that employees had a clear understanding of where the organisation wants to be in the future.  Additionally potential customers hear about the organisation’s commitment to Purple Talent and want to spend their money there.

Such a kind of organisational nirvana may sound like quite a flight of imagination.   But don’t significant achievements always begin with in an original imaginative spark that gets the ball rolling. Goals have to be imagined and translated into practical steps before they can become real.  So let’s take a closer look at some of the key building blocks…

Big ideas for Employers – Route-Map to Enable Purple Talent

In S&BN the point is well made that data on purple matters is best considered once an organisation has made progress along a clear route-map.

A Purple Route-Map will have most impact when reinforced in its organisation’s People Strategy.  Critical for enabling results is the transformational influence of senior leaders as they communicate organisational values, culture and celebrate progress bringing an imperative to the People Strategy so that it goes far beyond being just an HR initiative.  Actual results are delivered at the coal-face when a range of change management instruments are orchestrated across teams, geographies and specialist areas of knowledge.  Systems and processes are tracked and provide the infrastructure so that Purple Talent can emerge on a more level playing field with other employee groups.

There are two important organisational truths to remember here.  The first is that practical actions to enable a productive and engaged workforce lie at the heart of any robust People Strategy.  The hardware of practical physical adjustments has to be coupled with the skilful application of  “interpersonal software” by line managers as they coach their Purple Talent.  A cautionary employee engagement mantra “people join organisations but leave managers” can help focus a line manager on their responsibility as numero uno engagement catalyst.

The second organisational truth is one that we know deep down from our own personal experience: we like our efforts to be recognised. When the Purple Talent agenda features on a Route-Map that is tracked and celebrated it becomes a more satisfying and vibrant part of people’s experience at work.  The positivity that is generated becomes contagious across employees, line managers, HR, occupational health, customers, other organisations that are using your approach as a benchmark, and so on it goes.

Big ideas for Employees – Being Your Confident Self As a Catalyst For Change

As a Leadership Development  / Organisational Effectiveness specialist I know disengagement and employee “learned helplessness” are phenomena that can creep in teams often holding professionals back and preventing their talent from emerging.  This happens across all employee groups when people are demotivated in their job, overcomplicate  or misunderstand what their job entails or are ill-equipped to make personal transitions as the world around them inevitably changes.  Organisational inertia and mediocrity can then become part of the culture.  A downwards spiral will continue until dramatic action is taken (or imposed) to buck the trend.

Individuals will always thrive, no matter where they find themselves, when they have learned to count on their inner strength and accomplished skills of how to re-invent themselves as things continually change around them.  I had to learn this lesson really fast as I’ve managed relapse-remitting MS over the years.  Whilst I cant control my physical symptoms as I would like, I know that success for me in managing MS stems from how I apply my mind-set and make an even more interesting contribution in life.  Part of the journey has been how to accept and move forward rather than battle against what cant be influenced.  Life was a lot more stressful as I was going through the “denial” phase of the journey!

Some final closing thoughts on the Purple Talent I’ve closely observed (rather than those who are average performers).  Those who thrive seem to skilfully and abundantly apply 4 competencies for success:

  • Resilience
  • Focus
  • Resourcefulness
  • Determination

Friendly tip off:  These qualities are essential for those of you in pole position to be catalysts for change and not surprisingly feature high on the list with senior leaders when identifying top talent for future roles, projects and assignments.

Watch this space for more on how personal productivity tools can be applied by Purple Talent!

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