What if the great leaders are hidden away?
This is a question that concerns any organization, beyond their Human Resources department. How much talent is wasted or remains unseen because it cannot be expressed?
In the case of companies, detecting true leaders that are hidden within the organization can really make the difference, as they pass on their qualities to the rest of the corporation. To this effect, in a recent article, McKinsey highlighted the importance of “hunting, fishing and casting their nets” to find talent and bring the best on board to take the helm.
That said, how can we achieve this?
The first logical step would be to define what a leader is and what his or her qualities should be. According to McKinsey, it should be someone trustworthy, committed to collaboration, with key values such as being result-oriented and seeking client satisfaction.
Detecting profiles with these characteristics is not always easy, and not only because of contradictions or drawbacks in the organization itself. Sometimes we are dealing with people who may be shy or withdrawn, too modest to make their achievements visible, or who have not yet managed to develop their full potential.
And on many occasions, it is the organization who places a wall before them. This is typical in large corporations, where talent can be diluted in the abundance of processes, bureaucracy and large workforces, with disconnected employees.
Other times, the limits are set by those who are already holding those leadership roles, exhibiting a limited and less-than-democratic viewpoint. For example, managers who believe only they can identify their peers or who obstruct the rise of possible “competitors” out of fear.
By contrast, true leaders value diversity of opinion, cooperate with people regardless of hierarchy, and therefore end up being perceived as leaders by the rest of the organization.
Shared leadership: how to spot it
It is often better to search for talent inside a company, rather than outside through new recruits. Faced with this type of challenge, the organization can mobilize internal resources in contact with the organization’s foundations, helping to identify profiles that stand out.
But for this to be possible, the organization itself must first share the vision that talent and leadership have little to do with hierarchies.
Because of its characteristics–transparency, fairness…–McKinsey highlights ideas crowdsourcing as one of the most common mechanisms to find talent, since it is the entire organization that, in part, detects and recognizes its leaders.
This frees time and resources used in scouting, and does without the distortions mentioned above, characteristic of highly hierarchical structures.
Because of its inherent values, crowdsourcing allows organizations to move towards a mature type of leadership, based on collaboration, transparency and listening. Also towards a shared acknowledgement that great projects are built collectively.