I had been with the organization for about seven or eight years, so I thought I had a really good pulse on who the strong leaders were at the company. But I decided to ask some of my colleagues, especially those who were in different remote offices or at our corporate office, and I was so surprised to hear that the person named most often was not one of the two I completely expected, the two leaders that I had watched really rise the ranks.

They were very outgoing and they possessed a lot of those natural leadership abilities, especially when it came to being on a sales division. But this leader, the one I didn’t necessarily expect, was the name that kept coming up, and the reason why they weren’t top of mind to me is because I just really didn’t know this leader at all. I don’t even recall that I had had a conversation with this leader before they were brought to my attention, and they had been there longer than me – so seven, eight years of opportunity. But for many reasons, we never crossed paths, and I never had a chance or reached out to speak to this leader.

Well, this was my opportunity!

In speaking to this leader, they were the opposite of what you see. They were much more quiet, much more reserved, and quite possibly the type of employee before they were promoted that didn’t necessarily speak up a lot in meetings or in other places – or maybe spoke up but didn’t have the frequency that others did, and didn’t necessarily bring it about in the same way. That’s exactly the type of leader we should be looking for. We have a tendency to lean toward those with those really outgoing, charismatic, kind of traditional, what we believe are strong leadership characteristics.

But who on your team, or who are you surrounded by, that isn’t always the one speaking up? Which leaders truly are the ones who are hesitating? They’re not jumping up and raising their hands saying, “I want to be the next manager!” Could those quite possibly be the best leaders? Like the best-kept secrets, sitting right there.

I will share with you, my son Ethan is not an outgoing, super social person, but he has been elected to be the leader among his peers and his teammates. He never raises his hand, he never asks to be the leader, but they see it in him. So again, as a leader today, or just as an individual, who might you be overlooking?

Who might you be missing for those opportunities to truly become a strong leader in a formal capacity at your organization? Who might you be missing? Just simply because they aren’t exhibiting what you naturally think would be a good leader? I encourage you to open your eyes, start taking in a true assessment, and find those best-kept secrets that are right there in front of you!