The Talent Mindset: Creating a Winning Team

In a recent video that emerged, Rassie Erasmus, the head coach of the South African national rugby team, tells the players that they need to take ownership of their role within the group. This video was from a training camp in preparation for the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

Erasmus shows the players a graph with talent on the one side and mindset on the other, urging the players to take ownership of their roles within the team. He stresses the point that all the players are part of the group due to their natural ability. It is now up to them to get into the right mindset and take ownership of their performance. According to Erasmus, the talent on its own is not enough.

Erasmus further explains that a player who doesn’t take ownership will act self-centred, and it will lead to inconsistency. What is needed is a Warrior-like mentality.

The talent mindset quadrants
The talent mindset quadrants

Failing to realise a talent mindset

These statements by the coach are also valid for the modern organisation. We are all born with a set of talents, and then over time, we develop skills. Ability on its own is not a key driver to success.

Organisations try to select and appoint the most talented people, develop their skills, but then the employees fail to take ownership of their work. Looking at Maslow’s hierarchy, one can explain it in terms of the fact they are unable to reach a point of self-actualisation. 

Everybody likes Winning

Nobody wants to do a job that requires limited skills where you don’t have to worry about the results. Still, about one-third of employees in the US are not engaged in their work. As soon as employees fail to share and realise their talents at work, the organisation don’t have access to the full potential of the employee. Ultimately the organisation will pay the price.

The challenge for an organisation is to create an environment where employees can bring their talents to work and take ownership in exploiting it. Some people may call it employee engagement or maybe commitment. Erasmus refers to it as the talent mindset.

The fact is leaders can create an environment where a talent mindset can flourish to motivate employees to walk the extra mile. 

Advantages of Creating a Talent Mindset

According to Erasmus, the most significant advantage of an ownership mindset within a talented team is consistency. A group of talented players chasing their self-interest will result in inconsistencies. They will win sometimes, but most of the time, they will lose.

For the modern organisation, the right talent mindset will reduce staff turnover, improve productivity and efficiency, retain customers at a higher rate, and make more profits. Most importantly, employees with the right mindset, taking ownership, are happier, both at work and in their lives.

It Worked for the Springboks

Erasmus used a well narrated motivational speech to create an ownership talent mindset among his players. His players raised from the ashes took ownership of their destiny and became the heroes of a nation.

In his speech, he emphasised that you can place players, or employees, in four categories depending on their talent (ownership) mindset.

Talent Mindset: Are you a Lone Ranger, Dog, or Warrior?
Going the extra mile with a Talent Mindset. [Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash]


The Warriors are those extremely talented players or employees, who are committed to the mission and will always walk the extra mile to accomplish their goals. Warriors come with a whole set of skills; the complete athlete; they take ownership of the cause and are loyal. The leader’s guidance is enough to keep them on track and exceed expectations.

Lone Rangers

These are the players, or employees, with lots of talent and a vast skillset but with an individualistic mindset. For them, their performance is essential, but the heart is not always in the end goal. They will become inconsistent and unreliable. These are the kind of players/employees you need to have a serious conversation with to turn their mindset around or, in the extreme, terminate their participation in the team.


This group of people are incredibly loyal and will walk with you through a fire, but the talent and skillset may be limited. They will sacrifice a lot because they do commit to the mission and overall goal. As a leader, you will always know how this group will respond in a critical situation. If you can upskill this group they can be turned into “Warriors”, or you need to find a specific role for them where you can use their talents. 


As a leader, you don’t want players or employees within your team with limited talent and no ownership mindset. This group won’t buy into the vision or have the ability to make a significant contribution. They will take you off coarse, require a lot of energy and harm the rest of the group. The best option is to terminate their participation in the current activities.

Teams need generosity and passions. They need people who care to use their talents to develop new skills to deliver on their promises. With Warriors, you can come from nowhere and win on the biggest stages.

Go and turn your Lone Rangers and Dogs into Warriors, and eliminate the Disengaged.