Career Success Indicators

Talent or Luck? What Matters Most

By Dona Baker, Whyworks

Tomas Premuzi’s video Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders? at TEDx Nevada raises awareness on the divide between what the media celebrates in popular business figures and the characteristics that actually make a good leader.

In his 2021 Forbes article, Talent, Effort Or Luck: Which Matters More For Career Success? Premuzi elaborates on what the research tells us about predictors of a person’s potential career success. He summarizes these predictors as:

  • Talent

Talent accounts for approximately 46% of a person’s overall career success. This percentage is broken down into three sub-categories:

  • Cognitive Intelligence – accounts for between 15% – 22% of a person’s “talent” depending on the complexity of the work;
  • Emotional Intelligence – accounts for about 9% of a person’s “talent”;
  • Interests – account for 15% – 22% of “talent” depending on the level of cognitive intelligence required to the work. If higher cognitive intelligence is needed, then interests have a lower influence on a person’s efficacy in doing the work and vice versa.
  • Effort

Effort accounts for about 9% of a person’s overall career success. How hard a person is willing to work can impact their success, but they have to be willing to go “all in”.

       e.g., Bezos and Madonna are known to be extremely hard working which has contributed to their success.

However, our effort is governed by what talents and luck come along with our work ethic.

  • Luck

Luck accounts for about 45% of a person’s overall career success. These are the “likeability traits” a person has such as: physical attractiveness, socio-economic status, gender, country of origin / residence etc.

Premuzi shares that the more likeability traits we have the more opportunities we are given. This is regardless of whether we also have the needed talent and work ethic to go along with these opportunities.

Premuzi goes on to say that the qualities that make strong and effective leaders are competence, humility and integrity. These are the “talent” factors and where Premuzi says we should focus our assessment efforts when we are selecting leaders and other employees.

Dona Baker, Head of People Development and Co-Founder

For information on how Whyworks can help your organization develop and assess competencies please contact us for your free discovery call.