Do you have a Jeremy Lin on your team? You might. You may think you understand the potential of every person on your team but the truth is, you could have unbelievable, untapped talent sitting “on the bench” just waiting to be discovered by you—or your competitor. As company leadership we must think like championship coaches and learn to recognize and develop game-changing talent.
Jeremy Lin had been passed over, cut and underutilized his entire career. Yet, he quietly kept practicing and getting better. When the NBA lockout was going on, he used that time to practice harder and get better. When the season started, they kept him on the bench, and he kept practicing and getting better. And when they had no one else to put in, they put in Jeremy…and he blew everyone away. But what if he never had the chance to play? He would have been one of the best talents in the NBA, gone to waste.
So how do you identify your hidden Jeremy Lin? And when you find raw talent on your team, how do you develop it?
1. Use Talent Assessment Tools
Having great talent on your team starts with the hiring process, and that process should start with using assessment tools early in the candidate screening process. Talent assessment tools are keys to understanding the natural talents of your candidates. You can also use them post-hire to identify employees’ hidden qualities and talents that may have gone unnoticed. Every person has natural abilities—skills that cannot be taught—and areas that they have the capacity to develop. Things like strategic thinking, vision and data analysis capabilities cannot be taught but are an enormous asset to the team. Folks with these abilities should be coached and put into a leadership development track that builds on those talents. Assessment tools like the OMG Assessment and TopGrading are extremely effective in discovering these traits.
2. Ask the Right Interview Questions
Again, having great talent means finding great talent during the hiring process. After you have the results of your assessment tools and begin to understand what the natural talents of the candidates are, you need to make sure your hiring managers are asking the right questions to identify the people who are best suited for the team and the company’s strategy. As experienced leadership development coaches, we recommend asking the following about the candidate’s key past job experiences:
- What were you hired to do?
- What were your accomplishments?
- What were your low points?
- Tell me about your team…
- Who was your boss and what would they say about you?
- What were they like to work with?
- When I talk to him/her what will they say were your greatest strengths and your areas for improvement back then?
- Why did you leave?
- What are your future goals?
3. Manage by Walking Around
Are you really noticing people for who they are or are you judging them with personal bias? The goal of executive leadership should be to capture all the positive energy that occurs when someone is working at high levels of performance. When employees are in the right role for their talents, performing work that is satisfying, they are happy and energetic, and it’s infectious. Learn to spot this energy, develop it and use it to motivate others. People who are challenged with tasks they enjoy breed positivity.
So how do you encourage this energy?
4. Assign Special Projects
As you are walking around and noticing your energetic employees, ask them questions and try to get a sense of what they want and love to do. Then give them opportunities to excel at those things. All leaders, from executives to managers, need to do this.
Jeremy’s special project was to play point guard when there wasn’t anyone else to jump in. He excelled and he became the “A” player that changed the team.
Howard Shore is an executive leadership coach who works with companies that need leadership development and business management coaching. Based in Miami, Florida, Howard’s firm, Activate Group, Inc. provides strategic planning and management coaching to businesses across the country. To learn more about executive leadership development coaching through AGI, please visit www.activategroupinc.com, contact Howard at (305) 722-7216 or email him.