Purposeful Talent Development: You Can Learn From Anyone, Including Oprah

Jennifer Stangl Photo
Director of Professional Development

3 minutes

CUES Learning Portal is a great place to reflect on educational content and have a dialog with your colleagues about it.

At the 2019 Association for Talent Development International Conference and Exposition that was attended by more than 13,000 people in May, the room was full for one of the conference keynotes, Oprah Winfrey. I was excited to hear this well-known persona present. But I confess I also was asking myself what exactly Oprah was going to share that would be useful to talent development professionals from around the world. 

Hearing her speak reminded me that we can learn from anyone—and especially someone so capable—regardless of their experience or specialty. Hearing her speak also reminded me of the importance of reflecting on our learning.

Oprah has not made a career of talent development but, as she shared some of her experiences, I was able to draw connections to my own professional world. For example, Oprah is often asked to make charitable donations of time and money. She shared her belief that you cannot just give to a cause or individual and expect it to have an impact. To have impact, there must be a plan for the donation—and a willingness to change. 

I couldn’t help but think of how this relates to talent development. Within our organizations we promote individuals, giving them new responsibilities and titles. We promote strong individual contributors to be first-time leaders or mid-level leaders to strategic leadership positions—many times without a plan in place to make that transition a long-term success. 

What we should do is make sure the people we promote have the willingness and desire to grow and develop to meet the new responsibilities to which we are promoting them. We must encourage our up-and-coming leaders to change the way they see themselves in their new roles and what they can accomplish. We can do this by providing honest feedback, engaging in open dialogue about opportunities and challenges, offering encouragement, asking questions, and sharing knowledge.

Now it’s your turn to try learning from someone outside your field. Below is something former .com exec and author Seth Godin said as part of his keynote during the conference. How can you relate this thought to your own world? What do you want to do after reading and reflecting on this quote?  

“We’ve been trained to collect dots (information, answers to tests, facts, etc.). We don’t need more dots. We need more people who can connect the dots.” 

You can track your reflection on this quote or on another piece of content in CUES Learning Portal. Simply visit the content on the portal and note your takeaways in the comments. You can refer back to it later as a refresher for yourself.  You can also share this content with someone on your team and engage in a discussion about it. 

I encourage you to do this the next time you attend an event or engage with a speaker virtually. To try this from your office, check out our online CUES Elite Access courses. Or attend the CEO/Executive Team Network in November where you can hear from speakers like Jim Detert from the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business Administration or Stephen MR Covey, co-founder of FranklinCovey and CoveyLink.

Jennifer Stangl is CUES’ director of professional development. 

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