Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

The Role Leaders Play In Discovering Your Organization’s Hidden Talent

Whether you’re a fan of the NBA or not, it’s hard not to take notice of the story of Jeremy Lin, a basketball player who in two weeks went from being the back-up for the back-up players, to a celebrated point guard for the New York Knicks. In most business circles, Jeremy Lin’s story has served as a powerful reminder of the hidden talent that lies dormant in so many teams and organizations, waiting for that moment when they can finally bring their talents out into public view.

Unfortunately, the key point that’s not getting enough attention is the role leaders play in finding and developing such talent within their workforce. Specifically, how it’s up to an organization’s leadership to create an environment where such hidden talent can not only be discovered, but encouraged to thrive and bloom.

Consider, for example, the fact that Lin hadn’t received a basketball scholarship, he wasn’t drafted after he graduated from Harvard, and he was cut by two other NBA teams before he got the third-string position with the New York Knicks. In each of these cases, what we’re seeing is not simply an oversight in discovering Lin’s hidden talent. Rather, what’s at play is a failure in leadership to provide opportunities which would have allowed Lin to demonstrate his abilities.

Although the article “What Makes a Good Boss” is meant to highlight the traits and behaviours necessary to be an effective leader, the skills and attributes shared in this piece also serve to remind us of the role leaders play in discovering and nurturing hidden talents like Jeremy Lin within their organization. Here are two in particular which help to illustrate this point:

1. “It’s their careers too”
Given the amount of attention and good publicity Jeremy Lin is creating for his team, it’s not surprising that many organizations are eager to find ways to discover their own as-yet undiscovered “stars” who might propel their organization forward.

However, it’s critical to remember that in addition to helping your organization, you also have to find ways to connect your employees’ efforts to what matters to them, so that any initial successes they create can be repeated in the future because they have the internal motivation to keep at it.

2. “Made, not necessarily born”
When it comes to good leadership, there can be little question that those who are successful in this role had to learn how to get there, instead of simply relying on genetics to help pave their way.

Similarly, it’s important for leaders to remember that we can’t simply shine a spotlight on talent potentials and expect them to deliver. Rather, we need to create the right conditions and provide the right opportunities under which they can refine and hone their skills over time.

While the piece “What Makes a Good Boss” will help you to appreciate what it takes to be a good leader, it also provides some important insights on how to set the stage to allow the hidden talent found in your organization to shine.

So what else do you think leaders need to do to find the hidden talent in their organizations?

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9 Comments » | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | February 24, 2012 by |

9 Comments on

The Role Leaders Play In Discovering Your Organization’s Hidden Talent

  1. On February 24th, 2012 at 12:19 PM andyitguy said:

    If you want to find hidden talent you have to give them opportunities to come forward. Don't always go to the same people when you need something done. Don't foster an environment where people are afraid to take risks. Reward those who step forward even if they didn't deliver as you would have liked. Make your expectations clear and let your team I know that you are available.

  2. On February 24th, 2012 at 3:18 PM harold fues said:

    Most leaders are afraid that their hidden talent – when discovered – will outshine them.
    On the other hand, discovered talent, falls into a similar trap – once star stature is obtained – to remember and thank those who discovered them.
    It's just human nature.
    On the other hand, when discovered talent brings in the bucks, like in the X Factor or American Idol, then there is a lot of talent searching and talent grooming going on.
    Perhaps, in an industrial organisation, the talent discoverer should be as well rewarded as the discovered talent.
    That might make a lot of managers VERY interested in bringing undiscovered talent to the fore.
    Harold Fues

  3. On February 24th, 2012 at 3:42 PM Jim Matorin said:

    I second the comment before my comment. Tanveer, I am not sure I buy into your analogy to basketball here. NBA teams are smaller in scope, leaders (coaches and management) are closer to everyone, plus there are immediate dividends in that wins equate to saving jobs or playoffs. Organizations are larger and rewards for those that are hidden talent are long term in scope. Consequently I think most leaders in the C-suite are insulated and do what they have to do to make their numbers. Rarely do they take timeout to recognize hidden talent unless it is a direct report they empower.

  4. On March 2nd, 2012 at 2:15 PM Rabbit Rabbit! First Weekly Wrap-Up of March! | Affiniscape Blog said:

    […] Welcome to the Weekly Wrap-Up! Every Friday, I take the time to compile a list of events, articles, and fun tips and tricks for associations that I have found in my journeys around the web. – Tell Your People by Tanveer Naseer. […]

  5. On March 5th, 2012 at 6:04 AM Radhikesh Sahu said:

    Many newbie leaders are afraid to become a leader because of challenges and risks of a newbie worker…
    Anyways very motivational post …

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