Highly gifted?

Member of the Selection Committee – an honourable task.

Highly gifted? You don’t talk about that. It’s with you (or not), one could argue. But it is a complex topic.

I was very moved by the discourse that Teresa Werner started this week at LinkedIn on this topic.

The Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes (German National Merit Fund) sees itself as the promoter of highly gifted students. When I was admitted in 1982, I felt more in a crisis of meaning than inspired. I wondered if I really belonged, although I had very good grades, and learning was very easy for me. I was able to perform even under pressure and had already taken on leadership roles as a football (soccer) coach at an early age in my teenage years – but highly gifted – really?

Imposter or not, that was the question.

Many years later, in the middle of my professional life, this question caught up with me again. I had landed on an intelligence test as part of a selection process for a top management position in London. In a darkened single cabin (I will never forget the darkroom!), I had to endure three test scenarios within an hour.

I had a queasy feeling about pattern recognition. I intervened in verbal intelligence because the test in English was a struggle from start to finish for me. It’s a good thing that I was able to do it again on German. Only the logic rows felt as light as a feather. I had done this part with joy and well ahead of the given time.

The result surprised me quite a bit – in a positive sense.

In a comparison group with managers in similar positions, my pattern recognition and verbal intelligence have been good, but not more than average in the comparison group mentioned.

In the logic series, on the other hand, I saw myself on the far right in the Gauss curve. I was a real exception and my logical thinking was a super power. Wow, I hadn’t been aware of that before. This realization inspired me a lot. It strengthened my assumption that, even with incomplete information, as a manager, I could think in the right direction for good decision-making. And this knowledge gave me a lot of security and self-confidence.

So highly gifted after all?

The topic is complex. And the answer to the question really not so important. Today I see the balance between the different cognitive abilities and the fact that you can trust your strengths and one should not pay so much attention to your average competencies. And the talent is first and foremost a talent. And making something out of it is the real challenge.

I am more than grateful to the Studienstiftung for the opportunity it offered to me, and I still do today. As an Alumni of the Studienstiftung e.V., I benefit from the inspiration of an exceptional network and also accompany the admission of new members within the selection committee. This is an obligation and a great honour. I take this responsibility very seriously.

It’s a very complex topic and never easy.

➡ Or how do you see it?

I am Bernd Scharbert and my task as a mentor and facilitator for leaders is to ensure that virtual intercultural teams will be successful.

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