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Lt. Col. Todd Henshaw (Ret.)

Lt. Col. Todd Henshaw (Ret.)

Todd Henshaw, a professor at Columbia University, is Academic Director of Wharton Executive Education. Previously, he directed the leadership program at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Reconnecting Lost Talent

When I read the question, I immediately thought about all of the untapped talent in organizations, and what would be possible if everyone, including the "underperforming" were engaged, relevant, inspired. That's the basic argument for effective leadership, right? Effective leaders have the capacity to reconnect people with purpose, to provide each of us an opportunity to contribute, to belong, to find meaning in our work.

I've been in several organizations where the leader (often a new leader) feels that he or she needs to strip more experienced talent of power and voice. Often these leaders are exerting their own power, only comfortable when those that might challenge them are rendered impotent and irrelevant. Soon, the leader has replaced experience and difficult questions with obedience and agreement. And often, these leaders believe that leadership is about authority rather than leveraging the experience and perspective of organizational veterans to enhance organizational performance.

Too often, we find leaders that limit the capacity of organizations to perform due to their own lack of confidence or insecurity. The great leaders I've known engage the entire community, rather than just those who might agree with the their direction or judgment. Great leaders access talent across the organization by ensuring that everyone feels relevant, engaged, and inspired.

Leaders need to encourage experienced but underperforming talent to "rejoin" the team. In some cases, all that is required is an invitation, or asking, " What do you think?"

By Lt. Col. Todd Henshaw (Ret.)

 |  January 29, 2009; 12:26 PM ET
Category:  Sports Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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