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4. January 2018

Making Time to Develop Talent

by Vicki Escarra, Senior Advisor

From my 30-year career at Delta Airlines, I fondly remember an interaction I had with our CEO, Dave Garrett. I was young and working a Board of Directors Charter flight. Once we were airborne, Mr. Garrett asked the whole crew to share a little bit about ourselves and our families, in a very unassuming and thoughtful way. I told him my background, adding that “I’d be leaving Delta soon to pursue a more meaningful career in the Peace Corps” (talk about putting your foot + leg all the way in your mouth!).

He smiled. “Why don’t you come by my office next week and we’ll take a look at other jobs that might interest you? I’d really like to see you stay at Delta.” I said ok, thinking to myself, “sure, the CEO is going to schedule time to talk with me, right . . .”

Later, I found out this was a part of his monthly routine. Sure enough, a week later, Mr. Garrett and I discussed several opportunities at Delta. Although he was clear that he “wouldn’t get the job for me,” he thought a couple were good career paths. So I interviewed, and I was selected for a position in research. And thus began a long, productive, and incredibly interesting career, which I later turned into a second career in the nonprofit world.

I’ve often thought about the impact on my life of his comments and the time he spent with me. It was huge. And I’ve told myself time and again: when I don’t have time to pursue a potential talented person because I think that I’m too busy . . . think of Mr. Garrett. He led one of the world’s largest airlines, yet he made the time to develop talent, because he knew the value of people at all levels of the organization and helping them pursue their dreams.

Whether you’re transitioning to a new season, a new job/role, or still working fulltime, this powerful opportunity for impact and investment is available to you. It is always a good time to think outside of yourself and give others the gift of your time and attention. Sometimes it can form a long-standing mentor/mentee relationship; other times it may be a one-time conversation, like mine with Mr. Garrett.

Oftentimes, we are the ones that hold the key to the future for younger executives. So, always make time to develop talent. It can pay big dividends and a higher quality of life for the individual, the organization, and yourself.

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