Every CEO I know worries about people and talent. How do you find and keep the right people? Why is it so hard to find employees when you need them? Why does recruitment take so long and cost so much?

These questions contain the answers. Most leaders fill slots as they arise--and that's the wrong way around. What more creative leaders do is collect talent, all the time. At conferences, visiting other companies, at community events, talking to the parents of their children: they scan the horizon constantly for energy, talent, and drive.

Then, when they find those qualities, they can do one of three things.

They can notice and move on--and remain frustrated. They can notice, develop a relationship with the people who've caught their attention, and keep lines of communication open. (They're like casting agents who watch every movie, see every play--even school plays--and know immediately what to do when a spot opens up.) But the boldest of these CEOs go even further: they just hire the talent in the confidence that great people make themselves useful. This doesn't always look efficient but it can be terrifically productive. How many business owners can seriously afford to keep talent out?

Talent gatherers are, in effect, impresarios. They are always recruiting because they just love finding new talent, connecting to it, and nurturing it. It's their nature, not just their job. Everyone else is just trying to catch up.

So ask yourself this: Who are the top five people you would hire today if you could?