One of this weekend's projects was to read . . . err . . . listen to Marcus Buckingham's "First, Break All the Rules" which parses through a bunch of studies by the Gallup organization to find out what the best managers consistently to do find and retain the best people.
In the book, Buckingham defines and highlights the differences between skills, knowledge and talents. He argues that skills and knowledge can be trained, but that talents can not. He defines talents as the things that we are naturally good at and and like to do. Intuitively this makes sense; we can not be (easily) trained to like something, or to be naturally good at something. His argument (backed up by data from the Gallup organization) is that the best managers hire talent that aligns with the requirements of any given job and then focus on developing talents, rather than "closing competency gaps." In my experience, this flies in the face of what most companies end up doing, but it makes sense.
There are many other points made which range from the intuitively obvious to the absurd, but there is a lot of wisdom in this book about being an effective manager. I certainly would recommend this book to anyone in a management role, looking to improve his/her effectiveness.
The follow-up book, "Now, Discover Your Strengths" will probably be next on the list.