Great companies are full of leaders, and if you're lucky, you already work with a few of them on a day-to-day basis. Still, it's a safe bet that there are many more leaders than you realize, some of whom have transformative ideas that can help your company succeed. These individuals don't always hold a leadership position or title, so it's up to you to find them. To do that, you'll have to know where to look and whom to look for.
Potential leadership candidates extend well beyond management and executive positions. Instead of limiting your search to individuals in certain roles, look for people who share certain key qualities.
One of the most obvious indicators of potential is a willingness to work. True leaders are committed to doing their best work, pushing themselves to achieve, and setting themselves and their teams up to do the same in the future.
And whether or not they recognize their own potential, leaders are constantly striving to improve. Human beings have a natural tendency to seek praise and shy away from criticism, but true leaders don't do either of these things. Instead, they value honesty, and they know that good communication is the key to improvement--whether that communication is positive or negative feedback.
People who hope to succeed in work (and in life) must have a willingness to communicate, accept feedback, and work hard in pursuit of their goals. Knowing this, your job is to implement processes for identifying the potential leaders who share those qualities.
Look to the following three strategies to help shine a light on the untapped leaders in your company so you can set them (and your company) up for future success:
1. Create a mentorship program.
A mentorship program can deliver tons of value to your team members and your company as a whole. First, consider those employees who step up and show a willingness to serve as mentors. These individuals are excellent leadership candidates, and the fact that they're demonstrating a desire and ability to coach others in building a particular skill means they value that feedback and communication process, too.
In addition, a mentorship program can help you identify potential leaders among the mentees, which will help you cultivate the attributes that are paramount to their success. It also allows you to keep an eye on them and make sure they're happy at your company. People quit jobs all the time and go on to take their undiscovered talents elsewhere; finding these employees early can help you reduce that potential turnover.
2. Host an internal pitching event.
Imagine an event where hopeful founders are pitching to venture capitalists; now, apply that principle to your own company. Get everyone together for as much time as you can spare, whether it's a weekend retreat or half a Friday. An internal pitch event will demonstrate your focus on big-picture efforts and collaboration, as well as give your team members the chance to share their visions for the company.
Your employees have ideas for improving processes, adding value, and growing the business, and some of those ideas may have been on their minds for a while. Giving them an opportunity to share them can help you spot good ideas and potential leaders who are always thinking about the future of your company and its customers.
3. Invite team members to contribute content.
Content is essential for sharing ideas and connecting with an audience, which are things leaders do every day. Invite your employees to do the same by contributing their own expertise to your company's thought-leadership strategy.
Don't think that your potential content creators need to be perfect writers, either. Have your marketing department interview these internal contributors to extract their knowledge. Then, take the most compelling ideas and stories and turn them into full-fledged pieces of content that appeal to your audience while accomplishing your company goals.
Not only does this give your marketing team great material, but it also gives your potential future leaders experience turning their ideas into actionable, helpful content that provides value to an audience.
Remember, leaders aren't just found in the C-suite. They're everywhere, and their titles don't always indicate either their current contribution or their future at your company. It's up to you to tap into your company's human resources in the most effective way possible, and you can start by implementing these strategies to identify underutilized leadership skills. Leadership isn't about title--it's about action and commitment. Ultimately, finding hidden leaders will help your company reach its own potential.