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Uncover Hidden Leadership Potential in These 4 Unexpected Places


Thu May 23 2024

Uncover Hidden Leadership Potential in These 4 Unexpected Places

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Identifying and nurturing leadership potential within an organization isn’t just a good practice, it can make the difference between success and stagnation. However, according to DDI’s Global Leadership Forecast 2023, only 12 percent of companies report confidence in the strength of their leadership bench.

If leaders aren’t ready to step into important roles, organizations risk being ill-prepared for crisis or sudden turnover. That can mean financial losses if they fail to hit performance goals or decreased productivity if employees become disengaged or burned out. And employees don’t stay in organizations where change creates chaos, or there aren’t opportunities to advance.


Let’s explore why uncovering hidden leadership potential is crucial for your organization’s future and how you can discover potential leaders internally.

Why Hidden Leadership Potential MattersAs workplaces change and respond to internal and external circumstances, building a steady pipeline of leaders who can fill key roles when needs arise is crucial. And some of your best leadership potential already exists within your current talent pool.

Internal candidates are several steps ahead of new recruits because of their organizational knowledge and relationships, saving time and resources on recruitment and training. Promoting from within rewards hard work and shows other employees that there are opportunities to grow right where they are. It’s a win-win situation that boosts morale, fosters loyalty, and helps companies retain top talent for the long term.

Identifying Hidden Leadership PotentialFinding and cultivating leadership talent internally requires a four-pronged approach:

1. Plan for a Stronger and More Diverse Future Pipeline

By planning for future talent needs, you’re not just building a stronger leadership pipeline but also a more diverse one. Companies with robust leadership benches boast 22 percent more women leaders and 36 percent greater leader background diversity than weak ones. It’s a fact that many organizations still overlook. Only 18 percent of leaders report that their company has leaders representing diverse demographic backgrounds, and only 21 percent say their organization recruits and promotes from diverse candidate pools. This underlines the untapped potential that lies within diverse talent pools.


2. Surface Potential Earlier and More Broadly

Untapped leadership potential often exists at an organization's lowest levels. Leaders may miss this potential if it doesn’t align with traditional leadership archetypes. This issue can be exacerbated in remote and hybrid workforces, where employee profiles, effort, contributions, and work styles may be less visible. Organizations can use assessments as an unbiased method to cast a wider net and identify hidden high-potential talent.

3. Develop Leaders’ Capabilities to Build Talent in a Hybrid Workforce

Leaders often lack confidence in identifying and developing talent, particularly in virtual environments. And it’s no surprise why: according to our Global Leadership Forecast 2023, while 65 percent of leaders say it’s critical to develop these skills, only 24 percent report receiving training in this area. The best organizations equip leaders to spot potential in a calibrated way and then accelerate development in this challenging environment. These companies gain a strong advantage over those who rely on traditional methods and overlook potential in their remote workforce.

4. Create Dynamic Success Profiles for Critical Roles

Defining key leadership skills for specific roles helps focus development efforts for success in current roles and readiness for promotions. Success profiles should be dynamic, incorporating critical leadership skills that support a company’s current strategy and adapt as the strategy evolves. Measuring leaders’ capabilities against dynamic profiles accurately shows who is ready to step into next-level roles.

Developing Hidden Leaders

To nurture hidden leadership potential, companies must create a supportive environment that fosters growth and development.

Consider providing training and development to nurture emerging leaders’ skills and competencies, along with coaching and mentoring to unlock hidden leadership capabilities and guide high-potential individuals toward their full potential. By supporting employees in taking on leadership roles, you create a workplace where your talent can recognize their potential for growth within the organization.



Organizations can strengthen their leadership pipeline and drive long-term success by actively seeking and developing hidden leadership potential. This proactive approach not only builds a robust and diverse bench but also positions your company for sustained growth and achievement. Invest in your future today by recognizing and cultivating the leaders within your organization.

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