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How To Discover and Develop Your Hidden Leaders

How To Discover and Develop Your Hidden Leaders

Identifying and cultivating strong leadership is essential for business success – one recent study reported that 89% of organizations ranked leadership development as a key priority. But where do you find good leaders? What qualities should managers look for?

Identifying leadership potential within your organization isn’t always easy—latent leaders may be hidden across all levels and roles within the business. But finding these employees and getting them into your leadership development program is well worth the effort. The Hidden Leader teaches managers how to recognize and grow leaders using real-world examples of hidden leaders in action.

What’s a hidden leader?

Talented but under-utilized employees who demonstrate integrity, lead through authentic relationships, focus on results, work from clear customer purpose and fulfill the value promise of the company are “hidden leaders.” These individuals are critical to an organization’s long-term success because their behaviors, attitudes, and actions nurture business excellence.

How to identify hidden leaders through behavior and attitude

Almost all organizations—even small ones—contain hidden leaders. Identifying them may be difficult since they may not stand out or separate themselves from the pack. However, hidden leaders consistently do the following:

  1. Demonstrate integrity – Hidden leaders show strength of character and make ethically-sound decisions no matter how challenging.
  2. Lead through relationships – Hidden leaders value relationships and people. They use interpersonal skills effectively and are curious about others.
  3. Focus on results – Using independent initiative, hidden leaders always have focus on the end goal and get results for both customers and co-workers.
  4. Remain customer-purposed – Hidden leaders understand their organization’s value promise and deliver on that promise during every aspect of the customer experience.

Enabling hidden leadership

There are many ways to structure company culture so that hidden leaders emerge. Creating a culture of high performance is a first step. High standards help hidden leaders thrive and achieve organizational goals. Establishing clear strategy and outcomes is also important. If a hidden leader has a vision or an outcome in mind they are able to strive to make it happen. Teamwork and collaboration are also central to fostering hidden leadership—a culture that encourages cooperation provides hidden leaders the opportunity to use their influencing skills to benefit the organization.

Identifying and nurturing hidden leaders can help broaden and lengthen talent pipelines.

Sue Rodeman is VP of Product Marketing at Skillsoft 

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