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Treasure Hunting – Leaders Discover and Unlock Potential


How does a leader discover these hidden gems and help bring out the best in every person?

One of the privileges and responsibilities of leadership is to unearth and polish the treasure of who others are.  Like mining for fine gems, sometimes the treasure lies near the surface and its glimmer can be readily seen.  But often, the jewel sits buried beneath layers of life, perhaps even facades masking the true face of the individual.  How does a leader discover these hidden gems and help bring out the best in every person?  Here are a few thoughts from some of my own treasure hunts.

Get dirty.  Be willing to jump right into the dirt and grime of the work.  Whether it’s crawling beneath the hood of the car to watch a mechanic perform his magic, serving alongside the busy nurse as she tenderly cares for her patients, or scrutinizing the numbers until your cross-eyed with the one who balances the books, be willing to work alongside the individual.  You will come away with a better appreciation of her duties, as well as her diligence in performing each task with excellence.

Be willing to dig.  Talk with the individual.  Ask him about his hobbies, his family, and his interests.  Talk to his colleagues and others who interact with him routinely.  Look for crossovers between the things that he loves to do and the needs of your business or organization.  For example, does he love detailing cars?  Maybe he’d be great at helping establish standards for cleanliness on your manufacturing floor.

Watch for the sparkle.  What makes that person eyes light up?  What causes her to feel empowered, excited, and alive with purpose?  If she loves encouraging people to help others and take up a worthy cause, unleash her to fire up your workforce to help with a local charity or community service project.

Help polish the edges.  The untrained eye often overlooks unpolished jewels buried within the dirt, even if the gems are brought to the surface.  Why?  Because prior to being polished, their edges are often rough, dirty, and not particularly attractive.  A seasoned leader knows how to recognize hidden talent and untapped potential.  After discovering these hidden gems, the leader must support the individual with coaching, resources, and opportunity to polish those edges until they shine.

Appraise at high value.  Even before the edges or smooth or the shimmer begins to show, tell that person how valuable she is.  Offer words of encouragement when she fails.  Affirm her when she gets it right.  And never give up on her – even if she has given up on herself.  Remind her of her true value and help her in the journey to let her shine be seen.

Leaders carry the great privilege of unlocking and unleashing potential in others.  It is one of life’s most important treasure hunts.  What gem will you discover today????


To your tbl success,