Uncovering the hidden talent in your organization is the competitive advantage you can’t afford to lose. Winning the talent war isn’t about perfecting your recruitment game – you already have the right employees! You need to learn how to identify them, and how to turn your eyes toward the places you haven’t thought to look.
In my corporate training, “Career Advancement: Release the Untapped Potential of Your Underutilized Leaders,” I explain how to shift your perception and change your senior management’s ideas of what a leader can look like.
Are introverts in your organization being overlooked? Often, great leaders are missing out simply because of what they’re NOT doing to get the attention they deserve. Your company is missing out on truly leveraging the talents they’re regularly exercising, unnoticed. If you want to move forward with the great leaders you already have, read on.
They're NOT speaking up
Introverts are not big on being the first to speak up in meetings, and they’re almost never going to be the ones to butt in and interrupt someone’s else’s soliloquy just so they can make a point. Unfortunately, this means that even when they have a better idea, you’re less likely to hear it, especially in a crowded or noisy room.
They ARE watching the situation unfold
However, introverts are often watching and weighing out each idea, noting the politics and passions of other players, and evaluating the best way to move forward. If you want to harness that shrewd analytical thinking, look for your introverts and encourage them to share their thoughts, even if it’s just one-on-one with you, in a smaller group or in a less chaotic environment.
They're NOT offering their opinions
One of the top reasons introverts give, when asked by superiors, why they didn’t weigh in on a problem is that they weren’t sure in the moment that their thoughts were useful. Anyone who has ever been in a meeting room knows that this hardly stops many people from giving their opinion, but introverts often struggle with stepping out of their comfort zones, hesitant about whether they’re actually adding to the conversation. While they wrestle with themselves, the moment passes, and the discussion moves on.
They ARE noting the attitudes and feelings of others
While they’re trying to decide whether to share their view on a problem, they are taking stock of how others think and feel, and the general emotion in the room. Even the most analytical introvert often factors in the prevailing sentiment of others when opting to share, so their observations and ability to “read the room” can be an invaluable leadership tool in finding balance and compromise around the table.
Figure out how you can draw out these hidden leaders and redirect their energies to optimizing that intersection of practicality and emotion, in addition to revealing that opinion they’re holding out on sharing.
They're NOT self-promoting
Introverts are unlikely to engage in one of the most critical components in career advancement: self-advocacy. Whether they are uncomfortable with putting the spotlight on themselves, or just afraid of being seen as a self-involved blowhard, introverts usually pass up opportunities to inform others of their successes and achievements.
As a result, others often know little of their work unless people have tried to advocate for them.
They ARE genuinely contributing to success
The same tendencies that keep introverts from tooting their own horn often makes them very concerned about pulling their weight with the team. As such, they are often excellent collaborators and dedicated workers, taking on more than their share of tasks. Obviously, someone who is more concerned about the well-being of the group and making sure they’re not holding anyone up can make a great leader when tasked with shepherding a group through a difficult task or project.
If you see traits here that appeal to your sense of great leadership, begin looking for the introverts in the group, and start coaching to raise their visibility with others. All the building blocks of truly great talent can easily be obscured by an understated or unassuming demeanor. You have to be ready to look for the introverted leaders who are hiding in plain sight.
Written by: Joel Garfinkle, recognized as one of the top 50 executive coaches in America, for Smart Brief.