We often work with high potentials and top talents — people that organizations identify as a crucial component in achieving organizational results.

Top talents are key for organizational transformation and growth, but have you ever thought about the hidden talent in your organization? What if those who weren’t identified as key talent using strict organizational measurements were viewed differently? How much more innovative, effective, strong, and robust could your organization potentially be with a substantial additional amount of top talent?

Carol Dweck, a professor of Stanford University and the author of the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, explains that her research shows that “managers see more leadership potential in their employees when their companies adopt a growth mindset — the belief that talent should be developed in everyone, not viewed as a fixed, innate gift that some have, and others don’t.” 

What do organizations with a growth mindset approach do to nurture their top talent, and work to identify hidden potential?

Satya Nedella, the CEO of Microsoft, encourages a growth mindset in every individual in his organization and committed to develop and build “a growth mindset organizational culture” at the company. He believes that adopting a growth mindset — the love for learning, openness, and hard work — is a crucial ingredient for individual and organizational transformation.

Nadella believes that a growth mindset culture defines the soul of the company. The soul of the company reflects on the way people collaborate and treat each other, the way they collectively respond and stay resilient in the face of rapid change, and how invested they are in new innovations. All of these behaviors and actions are the reflection of the company’s identity, which is part of Microsoft’s journey towards transformation. Nadella believes in the collective talent at Microsoft and strongly believes in unleashing everyone’s talent. 

Talent development is a process that’s designed to build knowledge, skills, and abilities so that employees can achieve their potential and their organizations can excel and grow. According to the traditional approach on talent development, a company identifies a group of future leaders by measuring key competencies. But what if you decide to adopt a growth mindset, and as a result you believe that everyone has potential, and that talent is neither innate nor static?

Microsoft created a “Talent Talks” program as an additional approach for talent identification.

Each year, the CEO and his senior leadership team meet to review their employees to identify hidden talent. They discuss possibilities for moving people up and across teams, and brainstorm methods of tapping into specific capabilities, as well as extended skills and building experiences for those talents who weren’t included in the traditional, high-potential approach.

Google is also making the shift towards a growth mindset approach to talent, especially in its hiring process. According to Dweck, this shift is showed by hiring more people who lack college degrees, but who have proved that they’re capable, independent learners. That approach follows the belief that talent isn’t static, and that you can actually achieve a lot by hard work and openness for learning.

Zappos, a major shoe retailer, is another example of a company that believes in the importance of a growth mindset and continued learning when it comes to talent development. Zappos maintains a “wishes list” of all its employees. The list is available to everyone in the organization. Employees post things they’re interested in learning and new skills that they’d like to develop, and they’re connected with other people in the organization who have these skills. In that way, Zappos creates a growth mindset culture of openness, love for learning, and development.

Like Microsoft, Google, and Zappos, we strongly believe in a growth mindset approach when it comes to developing leaders at all levels. We think that leaders are made, not born, and believe that everyone can improve, grow, and strive to reach their full potential.

Part of the key to success is learning agility, a fundamental competency at any level. That’s why we teach learning agility in all our leadership programs, from our flagship Leadership Development Program to our Leadership At the Peak program designed for the C-suite. If you’re interested in growing, advancing, and thriving in a changing world, learning agility will be an essential part of your process. And for organizations who want to do the same, a  growth mindset could be equally as important.

Learn more about our programs, which can help you or your employees master learning agility.

8 thoughts on “How to Find Hidden Talent in Your Organization

  1. Chase Jensen says:

    I really enjoyed this article. Creating an environment where everyone in the company is able and expected to grow and become a more valuable player is very important. I like what Zappos is doing allowing all the employees to be involved and providing ideas.

  2. Kenna says:

    I really enjoyed this insight of how it can be beneficial for organizations to not just look for talent but allow employees to grow and develop the characteristics that will make their company better. I think this is also important when seeking out a career because you may think you don’t have the right qualifications but if you have a growth mindset then you are able to be open to learning and developing new skills that will help you in the career that you are pursuing.

  3. Jaden says:

    This principle of growth mindset to develop our true talents is fascinating. I think everyone should aspire to grow, learn, and progress in their careers.

    1. Tanner says:

      I find it extremely interesting that companies like Google and Microsoft are tapping the untouched potential found in those who lack a degree. I like the fact that the hiring process is becoming centered on people rather than paper.

  4. Alexis says:

    I agree that the people around us and the people we work with effect how the company grows and evolves. Companies who encourage their workers to not just be comfortable in the work they know but to do their best to move forward and challenge themselves are the companies that will grow the most and progress in the most beneficial ways.

  5. Kinley says:

    I really like what these organizations are beginning to do with their employees. I like how they are showing people their potential and giving them the opportunity to get where they want to be. I think having a growth mindset is very important and beneficial, it allows the people to grow within the company and gives them fair opportunities. I have never heard of companies who do this so it was interesting to read this article and find out.

  6. It has never been hard to identify a guy who has potential to grow not alone but keeping up and together with the team and organization. The problem is when organizations on purpose ignore the guy with promotions because they feel their current manager is bringing them a good amount of money/revenue.

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