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Uncover your hidden talent — the future leaders who already work for you

Make a plan to start highlighting your existing skilled but overlooked staff.

4 min read


Uncover your hidden talent -- the future leaders who already work for you

Pixabay image/SmartBrief illustration

Diversity and inclusion are two of the biggest buzzwords in today’s corporate world. Everywhere we look, there are messages encouraging a rethinking of the workplace and a shift in how we do business to greater utilize the diverse workforce of today. While others are resisting change and treating this new wave of thinking as obligation, you can actually get ahead by embracing diversity and inclusion.

But how? In my talk “The Invisible Leaders: How to Find Them and Let Them Shine,” I discuss how you can help those who are constantly overlooked turn into strong, respected leaders.

Women, minorities and quieter individuals such as introverts often are passed over in favour of people who fit a more historically anticipated model of a leader. By helping your hidden leaders develop the elements to get noticed, you will gain the competitive advantage by leveraging high-value, underrepresented talent. If you want to save time, money and recruiting costs while improving employee retention, read on for ways to help your hidden leaders develop their executive presence.

1. Develop gravitas

Senior leaders expect potential candidates to exude confidence, speak with poise and radiate charisma. Often, it is assumed that this self-assuredness is born, not learned — and that those who radiate gravitas are somehow natural-born leaders, arriving on the scene with all skills fully developed and ready to be leveraged by your organization. Consider how your hidden talent might have many of the skills that executives are seeking but lack the confidence to fully voice their thoughts in a convincing manner. Many may lack experience in speaking up or com from a culture or upbringing where decisively conveying their opinion would be frowned upon.

Give them the tools and the training to be bold and convincing with the knowledge they already possess, and you will move them closer to that executive spotlight.

2. Encourage communication

In addition to building those abilities in self-promotion, make sure your hidden talent is given the opportunities to develop strong communication skills. Executive leaders are looking for people who can be concise, prepared and persuasive. Make time and formal plans for coaching your your traditionally overlooked leadership potentials in mastering the art of skillful, confident presentation, and then make sure they have the chance to present to executives. Let senior leadership see them speaking on the topics they know best. Be sure they know how to deliver focused, decisive insight and how to stand behind their assertions, even when questioned by superiors.

Not everyone is inherently comfortable with challenging authority, so offer your unknown gems the opportunity to build on their own style to maintain poise and speak with conviction.

3. Build reputation

Similarly, many among the ranks of hidden talent in your organization may have missed opportunities to be known for the great results they’ve already achieved. Often, people are hesitant to “toot their own horn” for fear of seeming brash or attention-seeking. To combat this, you not only have to coach your talent on the value of positive, honest self-promotion, you also have to advocate on their behalf.

Make sure senior leaders know who they are and the great things they’ve done, even if it wasn’t shouted from the rooftops at every opportunity. There are plenty of opportunities to give credit where it’s due and ensure your quieter team members are recognized.

Hidden leaders often don’t fit the historically expected mold, but that doesn’t mean they need to completely change their style or personality to get ahead. With coaching and assistance on demonstrating confidence, reputation-building and strong communication skills, many otherwise overlooked individuals can integrate the elements sought after by CEOs into their existing competencies. You can unearth these hidden gems in your organization and help solve the talent draught without external recruitment. Make a plan to start highlighting your existing skilled but overlooked staff. 


Joel Garfinkle is a leading executive coach and the author of 7 books, including “Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level.” He was recently hired by a Fortune 500 company looking to uncover and promote hidden talent. With his executive training, the company was able to cut recruitment costs, improve employee retention and leverage some of its most valuable and promising new executives. Subscribe to his Fulfillment at Work Newsletter and receive the free e-book, “41 Proven Strategies to Get Promoted Now!”

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