Leaders believe in the potential of people.

Leaders see beyond the superficial.

Leaders see beyond the superficial.

Superman has x-ray vision. He can see if an opponent had a knife or another dangerous weapon – not that they would do much good against him – but he would never be surprised by what’s in the pocket of an adversary. He can see the physical resources that other people bring with them.

Like Superman, leaders are aware of hidden resources. Leaders see beyond the superficial when it comes to talent, emotional intelligence, and drive. I believe they cultivate a talent for looking into other people and finding their potential. The best leaders I’ve always known seem to expect that other people have great potential they can bring to any project. The leader is often the first to tell the other person that he or she is going a long way.

I remember that another leader identified my friend Nancy as a high potential leader. He told Nancy that she would become district governor for Toastmasters District 3. It’s a volunteer position, and it is the senior volunteer position for about 3000 Toastmasters in Arizona. One leader saw this potential in her while she was still new to the program. She didn’t believe it. The leader saw it regardless of her doubt.

If you are a leader, you should look for the potential in other people too. You may not believe you have this power; practice will make it stronger. You will become a stronger leader in the process. Here is what to do.

Believe in people. Work with the assumption that people have greatness within them. The people around you have many different gifts; they cannot all become heart surgeons, race drivers, or award winning speakers. Nevertheless, keep looking. Find the talent in that other person is yearning to express. Believe that it is there. Act as if you are going to find it.

Explore their depths. Have some meaningful conversations with other people. Don’t just talk about the weather, look for their soul. Respond with happiness whenever you discover a person’s unique talent. Expect to find it. You may have to share something meaningful about yourself in the process. The transformational process of success with other people is like alchemy, Carl Jung said. Two people on fire with their unique passion can accomplish something bigger than either of them was aware.

Challenge them to do more. You can help other people lead a more passionate life. Challenge them. Hold them accountable. Ask them to work at another level of performance. Expect big things of them. Don’t settle for smallness with people.

Add inner knowledge. I suggest to you that you have depths of knowledge that you may not use frequently. Go swimming in your depths. Take a useful pause, and imagine that you have an inner knowledge that can help the people who follow you. I believe this happens with great leaders, all the time. Trust in your depth.

Proclaim the possibility. Tell the person who follows you, “I believe in you. Here is what I see that is possible for you.” Name it.   Encourage another person to get ready for his or her challenge. Let the other person know that you will be an ally when needed.

The work of leadership is building other leaders. Great leaders have been challenged by others who have come before them. Part of your journey to excellence may come from challenging people that you know. Recognize the (hidden) talent in people around you. Help them to become effective.


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Call me at 602-299-0576 to speak at your next project management meeting. 

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