Creating Value by Uncovering Latent Talent
Finding the connection between your organization's current challenges and its untapped skills
Recently, I was struggling through a project at work related to data analysis. I decided to mention the challenge to a colleague named Sean. I knew that Sean, we had hired recently in our Partner Development group, had a background in and passion for data science. At the time, this data skillset was not something we had tapped into as an organization because it is not directly related to his primary role.
When I presented my data challenge to Sean, he instantly grasped what I was struggling with. Within a matter of days, he had developed a robust solution, unblocking a critical project for the company. In reflecting on how this played out, I realized two things:
I should have asked for help sooner...🤷♂️
Even more importantly, tapping into latent talent inside of an organization is a critical leadership skill.
It is self-evident that we should always be looking for ways to fully utilize the talent on our teams. What is perhaps less obvious is that finding these opportunities can and should be a deliberate leadership practice.
From one perspective, I could look at what happened and think that I had delegated effectively and that Sean, in turn, had created the value. Giving credit where it's due, he did in fact create a lot of value. But not all of it.
In fact, the very act of my engaging Sean on the problem was in and of itself a value-creating activity. Finding the connection between a company challenge and talent lying untapped in the organization was a deliberate act. Furthermore, finding more of these opportunities is a skill that any leader should deliberately cultivate.
Be deliberate about understanding what latent talent lies untapped with your organization. Then, think critically about how to find connections between your current challenges and these untapped skills. Not only can this act propel your business through its current struggles, but it provides opportunities for increased engagement among your team.