Every leader knows that looking for emerging talent is a crucial leadership competency. But most leaders also believe their plates are simply too full to add talent-scouting into their busy roles.
At the 2017 Global Leadership Summit, Bill Hybels offered a way any leader can become a master talent scout. He called it creating “Table 18” moments.
In his talk, Bill described an encounter he experienced with a waitress at a hotel restaurant in India. Almost every day during his stay, Bill took his meals in the same restaurant, and was hosted by this same server, at the same table—Table 18.
Through their interactions, Bill identified in her some remarkable leadership potential, and he made a point to encourage her in her development. Later this young woman gave him a thank-you note in which she expressed profound gratitude for his encouragement, adding that, “She would remember Table 18 for the rest of her life.” (You can hear more about this story in GLS Podcast Episode 019.)
Bill challenged everyone at the Summit always to look for these Table 18 opportunities.
Here are five ways you can practically look for Table 18 moments:
- Keep Your Radar on “Full Alert” for Leadership Talent
No matter what you are doing, or where you are, maintain a “talent-observation mindset.”
- Be Aware That Talent Can Appear in the Most Unlikely of Places
Although professional headhunters might only comb the executive corridors of Fortune 500 companies, Table 18 moments can take place just about anywhere.
- Don’t Just Notice; Respond
It’s important to notice talent, but don’t stop there. Let the person know that you have noticed their potential. A little encouragement goes a long way.
- Remember that Table 18 Moments Are Not Just About Recruitment
It’s not just about building your own team. Table 18 moments are also about furthering the development of leadership talent regardless of where that talent goes.
- Be Open to Follow-Up Opportunities
Bill made a point of deciding to stay in that hotel in the future, in part with the hope to follow up with this talented young person. Sometimes follow up can be as simple as sending an email of encouragement six months later. Don’t create co-dependency; just be prepared to find out where the story is leading.
Every leader is busy. Every leader feels their time is at a premium. But that doesn’t mean the important role of spotting emerging talent has to be put on the back-burner.
It simply requires a fresh approach.
And weaving Table 18 moments into your day can be a great way to start.
To learn more, check out the most recent episode of the GLS Podcast Episode 019 to hear more from Bill Hybels, Andy Stanley and Jeff Lockyer on talent observation and the “Table 18 conversation.”
Scott Cochrane serves as the Vice President of International at Willow Creek Association. An insightful and genuine leader, he travels the globe mentoring international teams, often alongside Bill Hybels. Prior to joining WCA, he was the executive pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Kelowna, British Columbia and provided leadership to WCA Canada.