Talent Development

Strategic Thinking

Strategic Thinking Jonathan Poland

Strategic thinking is the process of considering the long-term direction and needs of an organization, and developing plans and strategies to achieve its goals. It involves analyzing the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and making decisions about how to allocate resources to achieve its objectives.

There are several key components of strategic thinking:

  1. Vision: This involves defining the organization’s long-term goals and aspirations. It requires leaders to think creatively and consider what the organization could achieve in the future.
  2. Analysis: This involves analyzing the organization’s internal and external environment to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This helps leaders understand the context in which the organization operates and the challenges and opportunities it faces.
  3. Strategy: This involves developing plans and strategies to achieve the organization’s goals. It involves identifying the resources needed, the roles and responsibilities of different team members, and the timeline for implementation.
  4. Implementation: This involves putting the strategies into action and allocating the necessary resources. It requires strong leadership, clear communication, and a commitment to continuous improvement.
  5. Evaluation: This involves regularly monitoring and reviewing progress to ensure that the strategies are on track and achieving the desired results. If necessary, the strategies should be revised and adjustments made to ensure success.

Effective strategic thinking requires the ability to think creatively and critically, to analyze and interpret complex information, and to make informed decisions. It helps organizations align their resources and efforts towards a common vision, and can lead to increased efficiency, competitiveness, and success.

Situational Awareness

Situational Awareness Jonathan Poland

Situational awareness (SA) is the ability to understand and effectively respond to a situation by being aware of what is happening around you. It involves being aware of your surroundings, understanding the current situation, and anticipating future events.

There are several key components of situational awareness:

  1. Perception: This involves using your senses to gather information about your surroundings. This includes seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and tasting.
  2. Comprehension: This involves understanding and interpreting the information that you have gathered. It involves recognizing patterns, making connections, and drawing conclusions.
  3. Projection: This involves anticipating future events based on the information that you have gathered and understood. It involves making predictions and considering the potential consequences of different actions.

Effective situational awareness is important in a variety of contexts, including military operations, emergency response, aviation, and driving. It helps individuals and organizations make informed decisions, avoid accidents and mistakes, and respond effectively to changing situations.

There are several strategies that can help improve situational awareness, including:

  1. Paying attention to your surroundings: This involves actively looking and listening for information about your environment.
  2. Organizing and processing information: This involves sorting through the information that you have gathered and organizing it in a meaningful way.
  3. Asking questions and seeking additional information: This involves seeking clarification and additional information when needed to improve your understanding of the situation.
  4. Maintaining focus: This involves staying focused on the task at hand and avoiding distractions.

By improving situational awareness, individuals and organizations can make better decisions, respond more effectively to changing situations, and reduce the risk of accidents and mistakes.


Persistence Jonathan Poland

Persistence is the ability to maintain motivation and effort over a prolonged period of time. It is a behavior or character trait that is essential for productivity. With persistence, individuals are able to overcome obstacles and continue working towards their goals, even in the face of challenges and setbacks. This trait allows them to persevere and achieve their desired outcomes, ultimately leading to success in both their personal and professional lives. The following are illustrative examples.


Persistence is strongly associated with a character trait known as conscientiousness whereby an individual takes their duty and role seriously. For example, an environment minister who actually tries to do their job to make improvements to the environment despite strong defense of the status quo by the rest of the government.

Work Ethic

Hard work is associated with persistence. For example, a hard working mechanic who solves the root cause of a jet engine malfunction where a coworker with a lower work ethic might just address the symptoms of the problem.


Persistence is founded on optimism whereby an individual continues to believe in what they are doing despite obstacles. For example, a gardener who plants orchids again despite having failed to grow orchids to maturation for four years in a row.


Ambition is a desire and determination to reach a goal. For example, a project manager who corners an executive outside their office to push them to clear an issue after the executive has repeatedly canceled or skipped meetings regarding the matter.


The ability to continue on without loss of diligence when you face stress. For example, a pilot who continues to work professionally to control an aircraft in extreme turbulence.


Persistence is tied to patience as it may require working for extended periods of time without seeing any results. For example, a software developer who doesn’t give up on an app they are writing even when it takes two years instead of the planned two months.

Failure is Not An Option

Persistence can have a negative side whereby individuals or organizations refuse to recognize the realities of a failure. For example, a military organization that keeps spending on a new technology when it is clear the concept or design is fundamentally flawed.

Fail Well

Persistence doesn’t necessarily imply an irrational approach to failure. For example, fail well is the design of things to fail quickly, cheaply and safely such that you can learn from each failure and continue to pursue your goals.


Perfectionism is the irrational pursuit of excessive perfection. This is a negative type of persistence. For example, a designer who spends hundreds of hours perfecting a project where the client has said they will only pay for 20 hours.


Refinement is the rational pursuit of perfection. For example, an artist who sets a very high standard for their work.


Mastery is an approach to learning and work that doesn’t progress to a new stage until the current stage is completely finished. For example, a student who doesn’t move on to the second unit in their math textbook until they understand the first unit.

Practical Thinking

Practical Thinking Jonathan Poland

Practical thinking is a type of thinking that focuses on finding timely and reasonable solutions to problems. This type of thinking is characterized by a focus on the real-world consequences of different actions and decisions, and on finding solutions that are feasible and effective in the short-term. In contrast, other types of thinking may be overly complex, slow, inflexible, or focused on theoretical or ideological considerations, rather than on practical concerns.

Practical thinking is an important skill in a wide range of fields, including business, engineering, and public policy. In business, for example, practical thinking can help managers and leaders make effective decisions that are grounded in reality and that take into account the needs and constraints of their organizations. In engineering, practical thinking can help designers and developers create solutions that are both technically sound and feasible to implement. And in public policy, practical thinking can help policymakers identify and implement solutions to complex social and economic problems.

To develop practical thinking skills, it can be helpful to approach problems with a focus on the concrete and specific, rather than on abstract or theoretical considerations. This can involve asking questions about the real-world implications of different actions, and about the feasibility and effectiveness of potential solutions. It can also involve seeking feedback and input from others who have relevant expertise or experience. By engaging in this type of thinking, individuals can improve their ability to identify and implement practical solutions to a wide range of problems.

Here are a few examples of how practical thinking might be used in a business environment:

  1. A company is struggling to meet its sales targets. Rather than implementing a complex and time-consuming new sales strategy, a practical thinker might identify small, actionable steps that the company can take to improve its sales performance, such as offering promotions or training its sales team on new techniques.
  2. A business is facing increased competition from new, innovative products. A practical thinker might identify ways that the business can adapt to these changes and maintain its competitive advantage, such as by developing new features or services that meet changing customer needs.
  3. A company is looking to expand into a new market. Rather than conducting a lengthy and expensive market research study, a practical thinker might identify smaller, more targeted ways of gathering information about the new market, such as by talking to customers or industry experts, or by analyzing competitors’ products and pricing.

Leadership Development

Leadership Development Jonathan Poland

Leadership development is the process of helping employees develop the necessary skills and competencies to take on leadership roles within an organization. This can involve providing employees with training and development opportunities, as well as mentoring and coaching to help them gain the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively lead others.

Effective leadership development is an important component of talent management and succession planning, as it helps ensure that the organization has a strong pool of potential leaders who are ready to take on leadership roles as they become available. By investing in the development of its employees, a company can improve its overall leadership capabilities and create a culture of continuous learning and development.

Some strategies that companies can use to support leadership development include:

  1. Identifying the leadership competencies that are most important for the organization and designing development programs and training sessions to help employees develop these competencies.
  2. Providing employees with opportunities to learn from experienced leaders within the organization, such as through mentoring programs or leadership forums.
  3. Encouraging employees to take on leadership roles within the organization, such as leading teams or projects, to gain practical experience in leadership.
  4. Supporting employees in their development by providing them with access to resources and tools, such as leadership development books and online courses, to help them build their leadership skills.
  5. Regularly reviewing and evaluating the effectiveness of leadership development programs and making adjustments as needed to ensure that they are meeting the needs of the organization and its employees.

By investing in leadership development, companies can build a strong and capable leadership team that is ready to take on the challenges of the future. This can help the organization achieve its goals and objectives, and create a culture of continuous learning and development. The following are illustrative examples of leadership development.

Competency Management
The process of identifying the competencies that are critical to an organization to develop bench strength that supports growth and mitigates succession risks.

Competency Assessments
Formal assessments that allow an employee to demonstrate that they have achieved a competency. This can involve testing or certification of work experiences and performance.

Performance Management
The process of setting objectives for employees and evaluating performance against these targets. This identifies high performers who are candidates for leadership development.

Career Planning
Career planning is an opportunity for employees to communicate their goals for their career and for an organization to communicate what it will take to achieve these goals. This allows employees to express interest in leadership development and for expectations to be set about what the program requires.

Employees in a leadership development program are typically given challenging performance objectives designed to give them experience and to allow them to demonstrate their competence.

Modern leadership development programs are based on transparent processes whereby the criteria for entering and remaining in the program are openly published. This is communicated to fight perceptions that a leadership program is based on favoritism.

Support for education such as high performing employees who want to complete an MBA.

Job Rotation
Job rotation is the practice of giving employees experience in a wide range of jobs. In some cases, a firm views understanding a broad range of roles as preparation for leadership. For example, a firm where the CMO is expected to have experience in both sales and marketing positions.

Organizational Structure
In some cases, roles are created in an organization to develop leadership. For example, splitting your sales team into three separately managed teams to create new management positions that are meant to provide experience for individuals who have potential to be executive management. This may also support succession planning as you develop experienced sales managers who can take over the leadership of the sales department if required.

Organizational Culture
An organizational culture where authority means little such that employees who find ways to add value end up leading things. This allows leadership development to occur based on the norms of your organization without a formal program.

Internal Competition
In many cases, competition between individuals in a leadership development program is encouraged. For example, asking participants to pitch ideas for improvement to executive management would tend to create a competitive spirit amongst participants.

Accomplishing work by asking for employees to voluntarily join a committee. For example, a committee with an objective of making a workplace safer after a series of security incidents. Individuals who take the initiative to join committees that represent extra work are often excellent candidates for leadership development. Committees can also build leadership capabilities by providing diverse work experiences.

Training & Development
The development of training plans and access to internal training, external training, workshops, conferences and other development opportunities.

Knowledge Transfer
Programs for transferring knowledge such as lunch and learn sessions. These can be used to give individuals opportunities to improve their public speaking abilities as well as to transfer knowledge to future leaders.

Change Management
Change management is the process of communicating change and clearing issues. This often involves sidelining resistance to change and empowering agents of change. As such, change management is an excellent path for identifying employees who make things happen and giving them more responsibility.

What is Integrity?

What is Integrity? Jonathan Poland

Integrity is a concept that refers to the adherence to moral and ethical principles, as well as the consistency between one’s words and actions. It is a fundamental quality that is essential for individuals and organizations to maintain trust and credibility.

In a personal context, integrity involves being honest and truthful, standing up for one’s beliefs and values, and acting in a way that is consistent with one’s principles. It also involves taking responsibility for one’s actions and accepting the consequences of those actions.

In an organizational context, integrity is also important for building and maintaining trust and credibility. Organizations with a strong culture of integrity are more likely to be perceived as trustworthy, reliable, and transparent. This can be beneficial for attracting and retaining customers, employees, and other stakeholders.

Furthermore, integrity is essential for ensuring fair and ethical business practices. Organizations that prioritize integrity are more likely to avoid unethical behavior, such as bribery and corruption, which can damage their reputation and lead to legal and financial consequences.

Overall, integrity is a crucial quality for individuals and organizations to possess. By adhering to moral and ethical principles and being consistent in one’s words and actions, individuals and organizations can maintain trust, credibility, and a positive reputation.

The following are common behaviors associated with integrity.

  • Brave
  • Candid
  • Civil
  • Diligent
  • Dutiful
  • Fair
  • Generous
  • Giving
  • Kind
  • Loyal
  • Reasonable
  • Reliable
  • Respectful
  • Responsible
  • Self-control
  • Sincere
  • Trustworthy
  • Truthful

Examples of Integrity

Admitting to a mistake.
Atoning for a mistake.
Saying what you mean.
Standing up for what is right however difficult it may be. For example, defending someone from a bully.
Working diligently to achieve a goal.
Using your strengths and resources to give to others.
Fulfilling your obligations to family, friends and employers.
Clearly setting expectations when you will not do something. For example, setting an expectation with an employer that you need to work from home when one of your children has a sick day.
Loyalty to family and friends.
Trying to be a productive member of society whereby you contribute to the place where you live.
Being honest, even when it is difficult.
Doing what you should do as opposed to what you want to do. For example, not acting out on negative emotions.
Paying full attention to what you are doing. For example, driving carefully.
Accepting responsibility for your own failures.
Working to atone for things that you have done wrong.
Trying to see the positive side of others to treat them fairly.
Trying to be resilient such that you try to maintain your good behavior in stressful situations. For example, attempting to take the high road when dealing with an unreasonable person.
A process of introspection whereby you regularly examine your own character, thoughts and behavior to try to improve.

Employee Development

Employee Development Jonathan Poland

Employee development is the process of providing employees with learning and experience opportunities that support their career aspirations and the labor needs of an organization. This process typically involves creating individualized learning and development plans for employees, which outline the specific skills and knowledge they need to acquire in order to succeed in their current role and to advance in their careers.

Employee development can take many forms, such as formal training programs, on-the-job learning experiences, mentorship, and networking opportunities. It is often tied into performance management, such that continued learning and improvement is considered an essential part of an employee’s responsibilities. By investing in employee development, organizations can support their employees’ growth and career development, and ensure that they have the skills and knowledge they need to contribute to the organization’s success.

The following are common types of employee development.

Accreditations Awards & Recognition
Career Planning Certifications
Coaching Committee Memberships
Competency Management Cross-training
Education Support Individual Development Plans
Industry Conferences Internal Events (e.g. Career Development Workshops)
Internal Presentations (e.g. Lunch & Learn) Internal Training
Internal Workshops Job Enlargement
Job Enrichment Job Rotation
Job Shadowing Leadership Development
Lectures Mentoring
On-the-job Training Online Training
Performance Assessments Performance Feedback
Performance Goals Presentations (e.g. at industry conference)
Professional Conferences & Workshops Professional Organizations
Promotions & Advancement Self-Study
Stretch Assignments Stretch Targets
Succession Planning Training

Examples of Tact

Examples of Tact Jonathan Poland

Tact is the ability to sensitively and skillfully handle a situation or conversation so as to avoid giving offense. It involves being diplomatic, tactful, and diplomatic in your interactions with others. It is an important skill to have in many aspects of life, including in personal relationships and in the workplace. The following are some examples of tact.

Unfiltered Opinions

Poor tact is strongly associated with individuals who bluntly state their opinions without regard to the feelings of others. Even where these opinions are based on truths, such individuals may seriously damage their chances of positive relationships. For example, a relative who bluntly and unkindly points out that you have gained weight.


There is a fine line between poor tact and bullying — particularly regarding children. For example, a teacher who announces to the entire class in a mocking way that a particular student had the lowest score in the class.


Discretion is the ability to hold back information that is likely to be hurtful, impolite or unhelpful. For example, avoiding a topic that is likely to be sensitive or embarrassing to someone.


The ability to keep secret information that has been divulged in confidence or information that is private in nature. For example, if someone tells you they have romantic feelings for someone — this can be reasonably assumed to be confidential.

White Lies

The ability to say things that aren’t strictly true in order to help others. For example, a teacher who compliments a student on subpar work in order to try to help build their confidence.

Grey Lies

Grey lies are untrue statements that are ethically debatable. For example, if a severely overweight friend asks you if you think they are overweight — it will hurt their feelings to say yes but it may not help them to pretend that they are a healthy weight. In this case, it would really depend on your relationship and the situation such that the best response is debatable.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to read the emotion behind things and to respond appropriately. For example, a friend who is asking for criticism from you may really be looking for support and reassurance as opposed to a list of things they need to improve.

Social Intelligence

The ability to read social situations such as office politics. For example, an executive who doesn’t like being contradicted in front of a political foe who will openly accept criticism at all other times. In this case, tact may call for deferring criticism to an opportune time.

Cultural Competence

The ability to build relationships with people from different backgrounds from your own. This requires careful tact whereby you don’t make unfair assumptions about people or their culture.


Treating people and the things they care about with respect. For example, greeting your neighbors and their guests with a friendly demeanor.

Saving Face

Saving face is the practice of actively helping others to avoid embarrassment. For example, delivering criticism indirectly and kindly when correcting the mistakes of others.

Message Framing

Framing communication in a way that is likely to be well received. For example, constructive criticism whereby you point to positive things to soften negative feedback.


A nudge is the process of gently influencing others. This can be contrasted with a lack of tack whereby an individual states their opinion as fact and demands that others immediately agree.


Tact benefits from coolness whereby you aren’t overly serious about everything such that you don’t politicize and dramatize. For example, not becoming intensely emotional when you discover that others have different opinions from your own.


It is possible to have perfect tact in normal situations but then completely lose it in an emotional situation such as a confrontation. As such, personal resilience whereby you don’t lose your composure under stress is an element of tact.

Business Development Skills

Business Development Skills Jonathan Poland

Business development is a term that is often used to refer to sales jobs. However, it can also refer to the process of growing a business by expanding or launching new products and services. These roles typically involve a high level of social interaction and competition, and require strong communication skills and character traits such as resilience and personal presence. In addition, skills related to sales technology, processes, and practices are also important in business development.

70+ examples of business development skills:

  • Account Development
  • Account Management
  • Accountability
  • Ambitious
  • Analytical
  • Attention to Detail
  • Bias for Action
  • Building Rapport
  • Business Acumen
  • Business Analysis
  • Business Plans
  • Clear & Concise
  • Cold Calling
  • Collaboration
  • Competitive Spirit
  • Customer Analysis
  • Customer Engagement
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Customer Relationships
  • Decision Making
  • Desire to Learn & Grow
  • Desire to Win
  • Determination
  • Developing Sales Materials and Presentations
  • Empathy Energetic
  • Ethical Standards
  • Financial Tracking
  • Flexibility
  • Forecasting
  • Formatting & Editing
  • Good Humor
  • Grit
  • Growing Accounts
  • Handling Rejection
  • Integrity
  • Language
  • Lead Follow-up
  • Market Analysis
  • Market Intelligence
  • Meeting Revenue Targets
  • Navigating Complex Organizations
  • Negotiation
  • Objection Handling
  • Personal Presence
  • Persuasion
  • Positive Attitude
  • Presentations
  • Problem Solving
  • Product & Industry Knowledge
  • Product Demonstrations
  • Professionalism
  • Proofreading
  • Proposal Writing
  • Prospecting
  • Public Speaking
  • Qualifying Prospects
  • Quick Thinking
  • Record-keeping
  • Request for Proposal (RFP)
  • Resilient
  • Resourceful
  • Sales Cycle
  • Sales Force Automation (SFA)
  • Sales Pipeline
  • Sales Processes
  • Self-Directed
  • Self-Motivated
  • Selling
  • Solution Development
  • Structured Thinking
  • Teamwork
  • Tenacity
  • Territory Development
  • Time Management
  • Verbal Communication
  • Visual Communication
  • Willingness to Learn

Business Experience

Business Experience Jonathan Poland

Business experience refers to any work experience, including paid employment, freelance work, and contributions to family businesses or personal entrepreneurial ventures. On a resume, this experience is typically listed in chronological order, with the name of the business and the individual’s role as a heading. Each heading is followed by a description of the relevant business experience. Some common types of business experience include:

  • Paid employment in a corporate or small business setting
  • Freelance work or independent contracting
  • Contributions to family businesses or personal entrepreneurial ventures
  • Internships or other job training programs
  • Volunteer work or community service related to a business or organizational setting.

Examples of business experience might include:

  • Worked as a marketing assistant for XYZ Corporation, where I helped to develop and implement social media campaigns and coordinated events.
  • Provided freelance graphic design services to several small businesses in the local community, including logo design and website development.
  • Contributed to the daily operations of my family’s small business, including managing customer service and inventory.
  • Completed a six-month internship at ABC Company, where I gained experience in financial analysis and market research.
  • Volunteered as a mentor for a local nonprofit organization that provides business education and support to low-income entrepreneurs.

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