Know Your Assets for Significance – Part Two: Your Greatest Talents

Thoughts on Excellence Free E-Newsletter Series
Volume 14, Issue No. 5a
September 1, 2015

By Dan Coughlin

Your talents for making a significant difference in your organization are the skills you are able to do better than anything else you do that can help your organization to be more successful.

Since 1998 I’ve worked directly with about 200 executives and business owners as an executive coach. I’ve provided more than 2500 executive coaching sessions and have invested more than 3,000 hours observing executives in their day-to-day work in more than forty industries. Here are twelve talents I’ve seen make a significant difference for an organization’s success.

Of these twelve, what do you consider to be your three greatest talents?

Organizing and Delegating

People with this skill look at a desired outcome and immediately take out a sheet of paper and start writing down what needs to be done in order to accomplish it. Then they organize these tasks into specific clusters and identify who will be in charge of getting those things done.

Public Speaking

Public speaking is a skill when you comfortably stand in front of a group of people and explain the desired outcome in a compelling way that helps them to see how it is going to become a reality. The audience walks away with a belief that the objective needs to be achieved and can be achieved.

Translating Data

The ability to look at sales numbers, P&L statements, industry-wide comparisons, compensation packages, and business results and derive meaningful lessons is a skill that helps people to make better decisions in the future.

Having Individual Conversations

If you prefer to guide sustained excellence in your organization by having one-on-one conversations, then this might be your most valuable talent.

Guiding a Group

Handing out orders to people when they are sitting together in a meeting is not guiding a group. This skill is more about facilitating conversations with the group as a whole. The questions you ask will play a tremendously important role in guiding the conversation.


Is your strength in writing an email to a large group of people that clarifies the situation, the rationale behind the decision, and the steps to take going forward? Is your strength in writing handwritten notes of support and encouragement and appreciation to other people?

Offering Strategic Insights

A person is strong at offering strategic insights when he or she clearly understands the current direction of the company, the alternative directions it can choose from, and the various ways it can achieve each of those paths.


An effective problem-solver is not turned off when problems occur. Instead the person moves into very rational approaches for identifying what is different in the current situation than what was happening when there was no problem.

Providing an Inspiring Persona

Some people have a well-honed skill for preparing themselves to walk into a room and have an immediate impact on the people around them. Their level of physical fitness, the words they use, the tone of their voice, and the way they dress combine together to positively impact the way other people in the room think.


Teaching is essentially breaking down an idea or a process into smaller bites and explaining it in practical ways so the other person can understand it and use it right away.


You have the skill of a coach if you can patiently observe another person in his or her day job without interrupting or intervening, and then later in that day or week discussing your insights with the person on the observed performance.

Making Painful Decisions

If this is your talent, then you see the value of making a painful decision. Firing an employee can be the best thing for a person if it causes him or her to finally make the behavior changes necessary to succeed in the future. Cutting loose a popular product can make room for a greater product in the future. If making painful decisions is a talent of yours, then you also have the ability to explain your decision in a humane manner.

Which three of these talents do you do better than the others?

  • Organizing and Delegating
  • Public Speaking
  • Translating Data
  • Having Individual Conversations
  • Guiding a Group
  • Writing
  • Offering Strategic Insights
  • Problem-Solving
  • Providing an Inspiring Persona
  • Teaching
  • Coaching
  • Making Painful Decisions

Use Your Talents to Make a Significant Difference

Once you’ve identified your three most valuable talents, develop a plan on how to use them more regularly to make an even more significant difference in your organization. Then work with other people in your organization to identify their three greatest talents. The key to achieving excellence is to get more people using their greatest talents on a more regular basis.